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Attrition through enforcement ("self-deport")

"Attrition through enforcement" or just "attrition" is a commonsense, demonstrated plan to reduce the numbers of illegal aliens in the U.S.

Under attrition, illegal aliens would be encouraged to "self-deport" - to voluntarily leave the U.S. - rather than having to be removed through immigration enforcement. Under the plan, we would decrease the job opportunities available to illegal aliens at the same time as reducing the non-emergency public services available to them. Once that is done, many illegal aliens will make the rational choice to leave voluntarily. Just as importantly, many fewer people will try to come to the U.S. illegally when they realize they won't be able to find work or access public services.

Attrition has worked in the past and continues to work to the extent that it's been tried. For instance, many illegal aliens have decided to leave U.S. states that have passed their own immigration enforcement laws, such as Georgia (link).

Consider the figures from Pew Hispanic (link) showing that the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. was 12 million in 2007 but fell to 11.1 million in 2009. Where did those 900,000 people go to? The answer is that they self-deported: most no doubt realized that due to the economic downturn in the U.S. it would be better for them to return home.

The problem is that attrition hasn't really been tried: it's so far been very difficult to reduce job opportunities available to illegal aliens or to reduce the services available to them on a nationwide or even state basis. Those who want to profit from illegal immigration push to give benefits to illegal aliens and to make it easier for them to find work in the U.S. See Obama immigration, Gil Cedillo, California, Rick Perry, Michael Bloomberg, Antonio Villaraigosa, DREAM Act, Mexican government, sanctuary cities, Center for American Progress and hundreds more pages here for examples of profiteers seeking to give benefits to illegal aliens or to make it easier for them to work in the U.S. Without the influence of those profiteers, many more illegal aliens - unable to find work or to access non-emergency services - would make the rational choice and decide to leave (perhaps even assisted with some form of repatriation program).

Some mock the concept of attrition and self-deportation, but they aren't in touch with reality: hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens over the past decades have decided to self-deport.

Some might doubt that attrition and self-deportation would work to greatly reduce the number of illegal aliens in the U.S., but that's because it hasn't been tried on a nationwide basis due to those profiteers mentioned above.

And, many illegal immigration supporters try to hide the entire concept of attrition and self-deportation from you, including president Obama, many other politicians, and the establishment media. For a longer discussion and examples of them trying to keep you in the dark, see deportations false choice. Even some of those who disagree with this site on attrition will (hopefully) support having a debate about it rather than trying to keep people from learning about it as discussed at the last link.

Last modified Jan 25, 2012
Discussed in (click each link for the full post):

Rick Perry, NBC, Washington Post implicitly admit immigration attrition would work - 02/24/14

... acknowledged the existence of the attrition plan to deal with illegal aliens (see the link), they've for the most part falsely claimed it wouldn't work or falsely claimed it was "cruel". That's despite hundreds of thousands of Mexican illegal aliens already choosing the leave the U.S. voluntarily. Now, buffoonish Texas governor, ex-presidential candidate, and illegal immigration supporter Rick...

George F. Will misleads, promotes citizenship for millions of illegal aliens (amnesty, This Week, ABC) - 01/27/13

... illegally. The study Will cites shows that attrition is a viable plan: reduce the ability of illegal aliens to find work and reduce the non-emergency social services available to them, and many or most will make the logical decision to return home. Just as he did over six years ago, Will engages in the deportations false choice and trots out his "line of buses" talking point. Even though Mitt...

Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick mislead, promote bad immigration policy - 01/25/13

... unwittingly admitting is that attrition (aka "self-deport") would be a viable policy to reduce the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. Under attrition, we'd reduce the jobs and non-emergency benefits available to illegal aliens, encouraging them to make the logical decision to return home. In other words, being in the U.S. as an illegal alien would be like being in the U.S. in a bad economy,...

Mitt Romney wimps out on immigration, again (Univision, "our system isn't to deport people") - 09/20/12

... third choice: "self-deport", aka attrition. Romney is offering a variant of that false choice by redefining the term "self-deport". To everyone besides Romney, it means "attrition through enforcement". To the new, improved Romney - perhaps prompted by someone like Ed Gillespie - it's just a voluntary thing illegal aliens may or may not decide to do, with seemingly little or no prompting from us...

GOP 2012 Platform on immigration - 08/29/12

The following are all of the excerpts in the GOP 2012 platform that mention immigration. The entire text is available here: scribd.com/doc/104097929/Final-Language-GOP-Platform-2012 See GOP platform supports Arizona-style laws, but includes guest worker program for preliminary comments made before the full text was available. Those comments still apply, but more may be added later. While not...

Mel Martinez: Romney won't support attrition as president ("self deport", Jeb Bush, Kobach) - 08/28/12

... last-known position in support of attrition - aka "self-deport" - Martinez says: "I don't think so, no I really, really don’t. I think that campaigns are not the best place to make good policy, and primaries are probably the worst place. I think that Governor Romney will have a sensible view towards immigration, which I think hopefully will be good for the country. And, I don't think it's the...

Ted Cruz keeps saying the same things on immigration (attrition, amnesty) - 07/27/12

... appears to be a supporter of attrition. If he truly means that, it's actually a strong point in his favor. But, my nagging doubts remain until such time as he details his stance on legalization and guest workers. He never describes under what conditions (if any) he'd grant legal status to some or all illegal aliens. And, those are key. Saying (as he frequently does) that he's "categorically...

Susana Martinez is bad on immigration, supports amnesty and a DREAM Act plan (Mitt Romney, New Mexico) - 05/15/12

... to the economic downturn. See attrition for a discussion of that plan and examples of the establishment admitting it works. Martinez is also lumping all Hispanics together rather than admitting that what applies to her (humble origins, ancestors from Mexico) might not apply to those from Cuba and other countries. That's expected from those like Andrew Romano, but from someone like Martinez it...

Robert Reich misleads about immigration, Arizona, Mitt Romney - 04/28/12

... for a longer discussion. 6. See attrition for the facts about the proven-effective "self deport" plan. ADDED: See RArmant's comment below. Wilson was termed-out after two terms. He won the second term in the same election as Prop. 187 was approved. That proposition passed 59% to 41%, and Wilson beat Democratic Party challenger Kathleen Brown 55% to 40% in the same election.

Immigration from Mexico might have *reversed*; the establishment implies attrition works ("self deport") - 04/24/12

... [1]). This is clear evidence that attrition (aka "self deport") works: many Mexican illegal aliens have made the rational decision to return to their home countries. This is also the establishment implicitly admitting that attrition works. To recap, back in January, Mitt Romney mentioned attrition (referring to it as "self deport") during a debate. Some in the Democratic Party base were quickly...

Michael Barone admits attrition works ("self deport", immigration) - 04/11/12

... that "self deportation" (aka "attrition") works. See the attrition page for a longer description of that plan and more details. And, if you get a chance, ask Barone and others to support increasing enforcement and reducing incentives to make attrition work even more.

Rob Portman on immigration and trade (possible Mitt Romney VP candidate) - 04/06/12

... They rated him as indecisive on attrition and on defunding sanctuary cities. They rated him as "Yes" on local police taking a role in immigration enforcement and on border security. * Another NumbersUSA report card (link) gives him a C- from 2009 to 2012, but most of that is due to inaction rather than things he's done. His career rating (1993 to 2012) is worse: D+. That's based on several...

Mitt Romney *might* make immigration attrition national policy (Kobach) - 02/25/12

... House. The changes would see "attrition through enforcement" – the state-level clampdown pioneered by Kobach in Arizona, Alabama and several other states – extended across the entire US in an attempt to winkle undocumented workers out of the country... ..."I have advised Romney directly, and his close team around him, that attrition through enforcement has been working, that self-deportation has...

Center for American Progress unwittingly admits attrition works (Leah Muse-Orlinoff, immigration, self deport) - 02/22/12

... attempt to claim that immigration attrition (see the link) doesn't work. What they do instead is unwittingly admit that it does work, it just needs to be nationwide. Leah Muse-Orlinoff [1] offers "Staying Put but Still in the Shadows: Undocumented Immigrants Remain in the Country Despite Strict Laws" [1]: With more than 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently living in the country, a...

Wolf Blitzer's outrageous lie about self-deportation (CNN, immigration, attrition) - 01/27/12

... he's talking about. See also: attrition for a description of the plan that Romney referenced earlier and deportations false choice for another way the establishment media has lied about the attrition/self-deport plan.

Newt Gingrich mocks reality: illegal aliens do self-deport - 01/25/12

... supported a form of what's called "attrition" to reduce the numbers of illegal aliens in the U.S., suggesting that many would self-deport; see the link for a description of that plan. The reaction by many to Romney's use of "self-deport" was more than a bit shocking. Now, see the video below (cached) where Newt Gingrich mocks something that actually happens: many illegal aliens do leave on their...

GOP debate January 23, 2012 ("self-deport", Florida, NBC, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Ron Paul) - 01/23/12

... and day to ignore the related attrition plan and has repeatedly engaged in the related deportations false choice (see those links). Regular readers will have heard the phrase countless times, but if you aren't one of those and you haven't heard that phrase, it's because the mainstream media (and politicians like Barack Obama) have been trying to mislead you. They know about attrition (the New...

Sharron Angle goes after Reid on issues outside his control, won't press hard on immigration - 07/23/10

... a good argument in support of attrition. She then says that her daughter-in-law is the daughter of naturalized citizens from Mexico, and that her four grandsons are going to be raised "bilingually", it's an "advantage the more languages you know", but they're going going to be all "proud to be Americans". It certainly is good to know several languages, but they're only going to know two. What if...

Mickey Kaus on immigration: not as bad as most Democratic Party leaders - 06/01/10

... is that, instead of supporting attrition he wants to secure the border first, then pass comprehensive immigration reform: "Tell undocumented immigrants living here that they will have to wait. Amnesty isn't happening anytime soon. Get control of our borders first..." Illegal aliens (not "undocumented immigrants") have already shown an ability to wait, and if they think "reform" is coming they'll...

30 Members of Congress form the Reclaim American Jobs Caucus: free up jobs through immigration enforcement - 03/19/10

... workplace immigration laws, encourage attrition through enforcement, and oppose policies that encourage illegal immigration... The best way to encourage immigration enforcement is to make it difficult for politicians to be on the other side, whether actively or passively. If most politicians realized that not supporting real enforcement would have an impact on their political careers the problem...

Marco Rubio supports attrition, seems to actually oppose amnesty (but: probably still supports massive immigration) - 11/17/09

... candidate Marco Rubio supported attrition (enforcing our immigration laws in order to encourage illegal aliens to leave on their own) and made statements that seemed to indicate that he opposes amnesty (aka comprehensive immigration reform). That's definitely a far better position than that of those in his general network, such as Karl Rove and Jeb Bush. And, it makes more clear his position; it...

Doug Hoffman's immigration position, Part 2 - 11/02/09

... out against it and in favor of attrition. However, he just seemed to assent to Beck's prompting and didn't explicitly say he was for that. Unless he actually says it explicitly, it doesn't count (he's a politician after all). 5. Hoffman is, however, quite gung-ho on skilled immigration at least of the temporary kind ("we need to make it easy for skilled professionals and doctors and scientists...

U.S. Catholic Church's 2008 National Migration Conference: Roger Mahony, others support illegal immigration - 07/30/08

The U.S. Catholic Church is currently conducting their 2008 National Migration Conference in Washington DC, and today they visited various offices on Capitol Hill to push their agenda. The conference program is in this PDF file.

Poll: only 34% of McCain voters know he supports amnesty - 04/01/08

... other polls, they asked about attrition: Only 34 percent of McCain voters, 42 percent of Clinton voters, and 52 percent of Obama voters correctly identified their candidate as favoring eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants who meet certain requirements...

"Civil Rights Act of 2008" admits illegal aliens "undermine the living standards and working conditions of all Americans" (Kennedy, Clinton, Obama) - 03/07/08

... their plan be used as a form of attrition? Yes, it might actually reduce illegal immigration by reducing the incentive and thus causing some to go home and others to decide not to come here. However, not so in practice, since with the other hand the Dems would be waving people across our borders. Nevertheless, a question based on this plan might be a good thing to ask one of the candidates....

John McCain would sign his own amnesty bill as president; tries co-opting attrition - 01/28/08

... trying to pretend to embrace the attrition concept, whereby we'd enforce our laws and reduce non-emergency services now to encourage many or most illegal aliens to go home voluntarily. However, he only presents it as a side-effect of an amnesty rather than suggesting it as an alternative to amnesty. And, he's discussing it as yet another attempt to fool people into supporting his amnesty: [...

Scared New York Times tries scare-mongering attrition - 01/18/08

Apparently "attrition" - the plan to enforce our immigration laws and thereby encourage many or most illegal aliens to go home and discourage future illegal immigration - has the New York Times scared, namely because they think it would work.

Mike Huckabee signs Numbers USA no-amnesty pledge - 01/17/08

Mike Huckabee has signed Numbers USA's no-amnesty pledge; news report here, and background here. What he signed is this: I pledge to oppose amnesty or any other special path to citizenship for the millions of foreign nationals unlawfully present in the United States.

Julia Preston/NYT admits: border fencing, attrition works - 12/29/07

Julia Preston of the New York Times has a brief round-up of the year's events in immigration called "Immigration Is Defying Easy Answers". After some expected NYT bias, she closes with: The next president will still face the tricky task of negotiating not just the politics of the issue, but also some concrete realities.

Fred Thompson releases good-sounding immigration plan (attrition) - 10/23/07

... appears to actually mean it: Attrition through Enforcement. Reduce the number of illegal aliens through increased enforcement against unauthorized alien workers and their employers.

Desperate New York Times immigration editorial plays race card; afraid attrition might work? - 10/22/07

... choice is a mischaracterization of attrition, and they appear to have done that because they're afraid it might work: Catch the few you can, and harass and frighten the rest. Treat the entire group as a de facto class of criminals, and disrupt or shout down anyone or any plan seen as abetting their evildoing. Most people who support attrition are obviously not guilty of what the NYT claims; they...

New York Times editorial promotes Mexicanos Sin Fronteras - 09/11/07

On the 9th, the New York Times offered the editorial "Is It Fixed Yet?".

Is attrition working in Oklahoma? (Arizona too?) - 08/25/07

... amnesty; they rarely acknowledge attrition, although the New York Times begrudgingly was forced to do so recently.

NYT editorial: supports illegal activity; acknowledges attrition; "pest control" - 08/09/07

... NYT has finally acknowledged attrition - enforcing our laws in order to encourage illegal aliens to go home - as a strategy. This contrasts with their prior attempts to present a false choice between mass deportations and a massive amnesty.

Chertoff: won't do job; going after bloggers; will stage show raids to inflame left - 05/24/07

... his job. ..."[Responding to attrition:] You're not going to replace 12 million people who are doing the work they're currently doing," Chertoff said. "If they don't leave, then you are going to give them silent amnesty. You're either going to let them stay or you're going to be hypocritical." [Rep. Brian] Bilbray said his idea hasn't worked because "there's been a conscious strategy of not...

Terry McAuliffe makes pro-borders noises; Hillary Clinton pulls leash - 02/06/07

Former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe is now Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, and he supposedly said the following on NPR [1]: CALLER: I'm one of those Republicans who helped change the political arrangement by sitting on the sidelines, and if you want to get 10 percent of the Republicans, right now, to vote for Hillary Clinton -- and I would be one of them, and I've been a Republican for 40...

Bill Winter on immigration - 10/23/06

Bill Winter is running for Congress against Rep. Tom Tancredo. Like other Democrats, he supports the Senate amnesty, and thus everything said about that horrible bill applies. Moreover, his page on immigration has several questionable or misleading statements: 1. His page twice refers to the "INS", an agency that hasn't existed since March 2003.

Rocky Mountain News' dishonest poll coverage - 09/20/06

Consider the article "Mass deportations get thumbs down": Rep. Tom Tancredo is not terribly impressed by a new Rocky Mountain News/ CBS 4 poll, conducted Sept.

Whatever will we do without child labor? - 03/29/06

In October, Mark Krikorian of CIS testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary about "Comprehensive Immigration Reform II". As their recent actions show, they weren't paying attention: Lobbyists for business will disagree of course, but their claims of doom and gloom are nothing new. Forty years ago, for instance, California tomato farmers said that their industry would cease to exist...

"Why Some Would-Be Immigration Reformers Don't Have the Answer" - 09/14/05

Mark Krikorian discusses the "reality" of those who are pushing for immigration "reform": The Senate is again considering various proposals to address our massive illegal-alien problem, and the competing bills have one thing in common: They claim to offer "realistic" solutions to the supposedly unrealistic desire to enforce the law.