Posted on November 15, 2016

The Coming Wave of Self-Deportations

Jim Stinson, Lifezette, November 14, 2016

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


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.


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.”


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.