The End of Immigration?

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Jonathan Last says that fears over immigration are overblown. As fertility rates drop in developing countries around the world, they’re going to send fewer immigrants our way no matter what policies we adopt:

When it comes to immigration, demographers have a general rule of thumb: Countries with fertility rates below the replacement level tend to attract immigrants, not send them. And so, when a country’s fertility rate collapses, it often ceases to be a source of immigration

….Many Latin American countries have already fallen below the replacement level. It’s not a coincidence that sub-replacement countries — such as Uruguay, Chile, Brazil and Costa Rica — send the U.S. barely any immigrants at all. The vast majority of our immigrants come from above-replacement countries, such as Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.

But even though they’re still above-replacement, those countries are witnessing epic fertility declines too. Consider Mexico, which over the last 30 years has sent roughly two-thirds of all the immigrants — legal and illegal — who came to the United States. In 1970, the Mexican fertility rate was 6.72. Today, it’s hovering at the 2.1 mark — a drop of nearly 70% in just two generations. And it’s still falling.

The result is that from 2005 to 2010, the U.S. received a net of zero immigrants from Mexico.

I had a funny feeling as I was reading this: I felt like I should have heard about this before. Or that I should have already known this. And yet, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen anyone make this point.

It’s a seductive one. I have an enormous fondness for explanations that rely on big, broad trends: demographics, money flows, growth of computing power, etc. That naturally means I’m a sucker for Last’s argument here, despite the fact that I don’t really buy his whole “demographic doom” schtick about America’s falling birth rate (which he’s on a book tour promoting at the moment).

Still, the fact that Last has successfully pushed one of my buttons doesn’t mean he’s right. It just means I’m intrigued by his argument. I think I need to read more about this.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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