COMMENTARY | The good news is President Barack Obama has solved the illegal immigration problem. According to the Washington Times, a study suggests the outflow of Mexican illegals has exceeded the inflow for the first time since the Great Depression.
The bad news is the reason for this outcome is that under Obama there are not enough jobs, even those that native-born Americans will not do. Mexican illegal immigrants are increasingly braving their own country's drug violence in lieu of braving the bad economy in the U.S.
Michael Barone, writing in the Washington Examiner, suggests the trend started in 2007, when the economy started to spiral down. Immigration from Mexico has declined from a peak of 670,000 in 2004 to just 140,000 in 2010. The population of Mexican-born illegal immigrants has declined from 7 million in 2007 to 6.1 million in 2010.
There are other factors coming into play, including better border enforcement and the end of the economic recession in Mexico in 2009. But the jobs that used to attract young, unskilled illegal immigrants from south of the border have dried up, especially in the home building industry.
This doesn't mean illegal immigration as a political issue has gone away. The Obama administration will still try to paint Republicans as anti-Hispanic for favoring tough policies against illegal immigration. The fight has spilled into the Supreme Court, which has taken up the question of Arizona's illegal immigration law, according to Fox News.
Even so, the spectacle of the illegal immigration problem being mitigated by bad economy policy on the part of the Obama administration will not be lost. It gives an opening to Mitt Romney, who can now suggest that the Obama economy has hit Hispanics just as hard, if not harder, than everyone else.
All of this cries out for immigration reform. If and when the economy begins booming again, a lot of jobs thus created will attract illegal immigrants to fill them. Immigration reform would not so much stop this immigration as it would regulate and control it. This too is an opening for Romney, if he decides to take it.