Good News—Legal Immigration Down in 2010. Bad News—It's Still More Than A Million.

One of the real scandals of immigration policy since the Great Recession is that we continue to issue over a million "green cards"—which give work authorization—a year. Despite 15 million Americans being out of work and millions more under-employed, politicians in Washington refuse to even discuss this fact.

The Department of Homeland security just released its figures for Fiscal Year 2010. (Fiscal Years begin in October of the previous year and continue for the next 12 months). See summary here (pdf.) and download detailed tables here (Excel).

The good news: the numbers are down, slightly. The bad news: they are still incredibly high.

In 2009, the U.S. issued 1,130,818 million green cards. In 2010 the U.S. issued 1,042,625 million green cards. Contrary to some immigration enthusiast propaganda, a high proportion of these are prime working age (and, of course, others soon will be): In 2009, 808,478 green cards were issued to immigrants aged 20-65. In 2010, we issued 746,607.

In my view, the mix of immigrants is also a slight improvement. Mexicans made up 13.3% of all legal immigrants last year. While still nearly twice as high of any other country, that's down from 14.6% in the previous year.

African immigration also decreased significantly. In 2009, Africans made up 11.2% of new green cards, but their share went down to 9.7% last year.

However, at the same time, European immigration dropped—from 9.3% in 2009 down to 8.5%.

The major increases came from Asia, which was the only region with an absolute increase in numbers—up to 422,063, or 40.5%, from 413,312 or 36.5%.

Many Americans view Asians as more likely to assimilate in terms of culture, economic status, and educational achievement. And this has generally been true, especially with earnings and education.

But from a cultural standpoint, Asians are unmistakably beginning to assimilate to liberalism, the culture of victimhood, and ethnic politics. They vote as heavily Democratic as Hispanics and are the only racial group where more self-identify as liberal than conservative. The outrage over Alexandra Wallace's Politically Incorrect video about Asians in the UCLA library is an all-too frequent example of emerging Asian victimhood.

I blame this more on Americans than on the Asians themselves. They tend to settle around white liberal areas, and they must notice how many goodies other minorities receive through grievance politics. (See Asians Put Foot In Racial Spoils Trough by Jared Taylor.)

However, as with all other groups, it would probably benefit the Asians already here, and America as a whole, to have a time-out on immigration, to help reverse these unfortunate trends.

Another minor bright spot: family reunification visas, the main source of unskilled chain migration, decreased from 47.4 % down to 45.7%.

But Diversity Visas increased from 47,879 to 49,763.

It is important to note that these legal immigrant numbers do not include temporary workers—the Department of Homeland Security has not issued those statistics yet. These green card holders are given immediate work authorizations to compete against Americans in every job. Additionally, unless they commit multiple felonies—and assuming our left wing immigration courts do not make exceptions, which they often do—they are here for good and on the path to citizenship.  

It's hard to say what is the cause of the recent decrease. My best guess: although the recession was worse in 2009 than 2010, many immigrants were already committed to coming.

But minor decreases driven by economic conditions do nothing to change the overall trend of immigration. 1.04 million is still much higher than the number who leave the country, which is usually around a quarter of a million each year. Thus, on net, American workers are still being dispossessed at an astonishing pace. It's just that this rate is 7.8% less than last year.

This might be a silver lining in the dark cloud—but it's pretty tarnished silver plate.

It's also important to note that, while the recession has affected immigrants, it has been much worse for Americans. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, which generally supports increased immigration, from second quarter 2009 to second quarter 2010, 1.2 million native born Americans lost their jobs, while 656,000 foreigners found jobs. [After the Great Recession: Foreign Born Gain Jobs; Native Born Lose Jobs, By Rakesh Kochar, Pew Hispanic Center, October 29, 2010.] Of course, VDARE.com's Ed Rubenstein has been monitoring this displacement since 2004.

Last month, this study's author, Rakesh Kochhar of Pew, testified before Congress to report on the next two quarters. He said:

"The updated results show that the economic recovery is now offering more widespread job opportunities for both native-born and foreign-born workers. More specifically, in the one year period from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2010, foreign-born workers gained 657,000 jobs and native-born workers gained 685,000 jobs."

[New Jobs in Recession and Recovery: Who Are Getting Them and Who Are Not, March 10, 2011]

This is a minor improvement. But given that foreigners make up one sixth of the workforce—already the highest percentage since the Great Wave in the beginning of the twentieth century—the recent job growth is still drastically and disproportionately benefitting foreigners.

The GOP is strongly pushing E-Verify to prevent employers to stop hiring illegal aliens. Rep. Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Judiciary where most immigration legislation originates, has even started a Reclaim American Jobs caucus that focuses almost solely on workplace enforcement.

But cutting legal immigration is an essential part to this Reclaiming Jobs equation—ultimately an even more important part.

The slow economy, marginal increases in border security and interior enforcement towards the end of the Bush administration, and laws like SB 1070 may have discouraged many illegal aliens from crossing and even got some to go home. According to private estimates—the no official estimate for 2010 has yet been released—the illegal population has stabilized, or even possibly decreased slightly. Of course there are still at least 10 million-plus illegals who need to go home, but unlike legal immigrants, their numbers are not increasing by over a million a year.

The GOP approach to illegal immigration has improved—but there has been a great lack of leadership on legal immigration.

Some Republicans (to his credit, this includes Lamar Smith) are calling for ending the Diversity Lottery and limiting family reunification to spouses and immediate family. But not one Congressman has called for a moratorium or even for cuts in the employment visas.

I don't have all the answers on how to try to fix this, but I think ultimately we need more grassroots organizations to get involved. Support the few groups like the Social Contract Press, NumbersUSA, and of course VDARE.com that are calling for dramatic cuts in legal immigration. At the same time, ask patriotic immigration reform groups who are not focusing on it to shift their priorities—and ask conservative and Tea Party organizations which blithely ignore the issue to wake up.

This battle will not be won overnight. But it can be done.

"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.