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What the Drop in Illegal Residency Means for Immigration Reform

Published on Fri, Sep 03, 2010

But Mary Giovagnoli, director of the more liberal Immigration Policy Institute, sees the Pew study as extra motivation to pass comprehensive immigration reform, including a legalization program for those already in the country. "I think it overall provides us with a healthy reality check on the fact that despite the claims that the country's being overrun and that all of these problems are the result of illegal immigrants, the amount of illegal immigration is, in proportion to the overall population and even in terms of overall numbers, declining," she says. "We need to seize upon that and build a smart immigration overhaul where now, with these statistics in play, we can figure out how to get it right."

The number of illegal immigrants has historically vacillated alongside the country's economic fortunes, Giovagnoli points out. "One of the overall best ways to ensure that we don't have continued loops of illegal immigration is to ensure that we have a combination of improvements to our permanent legal system and to our guest worker programs," she says. "We know that enforcement alone can't handle the situation."

Published in the Atlantic Monthly | Read Article