PoliZette

The Coming Wave of Self-Deportations

Under Trump admin that enforces immigration law, many illegal aliens are likely to leave on their own

With Republican Donald Trump elected, many people are expected to leave the country.

And not just liberal celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Alec Baldwin.

“Nobody wants to be arrested and put into detention. A lot of [illegal immigrants] are here because they got away with it.”

Trump appears as committed as ever to restoring law and order to the nation’s immigration system and to securing the border. But with luck, some or much of the heavy lifting won’t have to be done by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

It will be done by the persons in question — the people who are in the country illegally. There are at least 11 million illegal aliens in the nation now. Many could leave of their own accord.

All experts believe needs to happen is for Trump to enforce the law against businesses knowingly hiring illegal residents. What will follow is called “self-deportation.”

It was a term that was met with skepticism when Republican Mitt Romney explained at debates that he would encourage illegal aliens to go back to their home nations. He defended the policy at a debate in 2012.

But the media couldn’t seem to understand it. Liberals also thought it sounded insensitive.

Romney explained many of the illegal aliens could apply to come back. There could be re-admission if they apply properly to immigrate.

Romney was mercilessly ridiculed for self-deportation during the 2012 presidential election. But the phenomenon has its precedents, according to Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies.

In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush asked non-citizens from “special interest” nations to register with the federal government. People here illegally, including some with expired student visas, registered. Almost immediately after registering, 5,000 persons were deported.

Seeing that number reported, another 15,000 left voluntarily before they registered.

“Nobody wants to be arrested and put into detention,” said Vaughn. “A lot of [illegal immigrants] are here because they got away with it.”

There are two things Trump could do without asking for registration of illegal immigrants, which is a rule unlikely to be obeyed.

One, simply being Trump is likely to stir up movement. His surprise election was a jolt to the system.

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Arizona officials used jolts to the system after the Great Recession in 2008. The state had a rising population of illegal immigrants, so it passed a law against residency of illegal immigrants. It also banned day laborers from asking for work on the street, and allowed police interrogations on citizenship, according to the Associated Press.

Arizona’s immigration-related laws were bitterly fought by activists and the federal government under Obama, which claimed states could not regulate immigration. But the law had an immediate effect: Arizona’s illegal immigrant population peaked in 2008 at 560,000, and a year later dipped to 460,000, according to AP.

Many just went back across the border.

Meanwhile, Arizona wages rose for farm workers (15 percent) and construction workers (10 percent), according to The Wall Street Journal’s examination of data from 2010 to 2014.

If Trump enforces existing federal employment law, the vast majority of illegal immigrants will be affected, according to Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

Many of those immigrants are here to work and send money back to families elsewhere — primarily in Mexico, von Spakovsky said. That creates a large income stream into Mexico and Central America that those nations’ leaders do not want cut off.

If U.S. employers are told that E-Verify and other federal measures to enforce legal hiring will now get the teeth of enforcement, illegal aliens will begin to pack up and go home.

All without door-to-door raids or mass arrests, experts say.

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“If they cannot send money back to their families, they’re going to leave,” said von Spakovsky.

John Miano of the Center for Immigration Studies noted in a Thursday blog post that Trump could also use one of President Obama’s key immigration reforms to contact illegal aliens and ask them to leave the nation.

“Four years ago, I pointed out the fundamental problem with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program: Anyone who signed up for DACA would be adding their names to a list of self-identified illegal aliens,” Miano wrote. “Should a future administration decide that it would start enforcing the law, the DACA program would provide a list of prime candidates for deportation.”

Miano said the work program did not provide the DACA recipients immunity from future action.

“Having authorization to work in the United States is independent of having authorization to be in the United States,” Miano wrote. “The fact that illegal aliens have been granted work permits under DACA and DAPA is no shield against deportation.”

The end result of this could be a massive number of deportations at no cost or bother to the taxpayer or even to ICE. And it would mean that federal law is enforced.

meet the author

Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.