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

On the few occasions when the political establishment has even 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".

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

The video below shows an appearance by George Will on This Week with Martha Raddatz of ABC News. On the video, Will not only misleads, he promotes a massive, unprecedented program to give citizenship to millions of illegal aliens.

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

In the Wall Street Journal, Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick offer "Solving the Immigration Puzzle" (link). I'll provide excerpts followed by a discussion of how they're misleading and promoting bad policy.

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

Yesterday, Mitt Romney was interviewed on Univision by Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas; a transcript of his answers about immigration is below.

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:

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

The video below (cached) shows Mel Martinez - a member of Mitt Romney's Hispanic Steering Committee - commenting on Romney's immigration position if he becomes president. Asked if Romney will stay with his last-known position in support of attrition - aka "self-deport" - Martinez says:

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

In Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, an ambassador visited an outpost for a few days, schmoozing with the locals. After he'd left, an official went to the leader of the outpost and said (paraphrasing), "we analyzed the ambassador's remarks, and he said absolutely nothing all the time he was here."

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

New Mexico governor Susana Martinez appeared to be somewhat OK on immigration in the past: she opposed drivers licenses for illegal aliens and the DREAM Act.

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

At the Huffington Post, UC Berkeley professor and former Clinton official Robert Reich shows a decided lack of interest in getting his facts right (link). He writes:

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

Pew Hispanic reports that net immigration from Mexico might have fallen to zero or even reversed (link, [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.

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

From [1]: Mitt Romney has discussed the possibility of imposing a nationwide crackdown on undocumented aliens, a move that his leading immigration adviser believes could force more than a million people to quit the country every year.

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

The Center for American Progress has released a study in which they 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]:

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

At last night's debate, Wolf Blitzer of CNN outrageously lied when he asked Mitt Romney this: "Governor Romney, the few times and I think it was only once, that they experimented with self-deportation, only a handful of individuals voluntarily left. What makes you think that -- that program could work?"

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

During the last debate, Mitt Romney 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.

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

UPDATE BELOW The worthless GOP debates move to Florida tonight. NETWORK: NBC News CO-SPONSORS: National Journal and the Tampa Bay Times

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

The video at is a new campaign ad from Sharron Angle in which she says: "Harry Reid says he does more for Nevada... He's done more for unemployment... He's done more for the foreclosure rate...

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

Mickey Kaus is challenging fellow Democrat Barbara Boxer in the California Senate primary; he realizes the futility of that effort and he's just doing it to raise certain issues including immigration.

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

From Reps. Lamar Smith, Sue Myrick and Gary Miller comes this: ...By simply enforcing immigration laws already on the books, we could create job opportunities for American citizens and immigrants who played by the rules to enter the U.S. Instead, the Obama administration has all but abandoned worksite enforcement efforts. In the past year alone, administrative arrests fell by 68 percent; the number of criminal arrests fell by 60 percent; the number of criminal indictments fell by 58 percent; and the number of criminal convictions fell by 63 percent. This is unacceptable and is an insult to...

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

Speaking earlier today, Florida Senate 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 comprehe

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

On October 21, Glenn Beck interviewed Doug Hoffman on his radio show, and the transcript and audio are here, relevant portion excerpted at [1].

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

A Center for Immigration Studies poll concerning voter knowledge of and support for their candidates' positions is here. Unlike most 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

From our "Isn't it Ironic" file comes the "Civil Rights Act of 2008", brainchild of Senator Ted Kennedy (S.2554, link). Among no doubt many other things, it seeks to close a defense that employers can use when an illegal alien is fired and sues for back pay.

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

Yesterday, Tim Russert asked John McCain: "If the Senate passed your bill, S.1433, the McCain/Kennedy immigration bill, would you as president sign it? McCain replied: "Yeah. But look, the lesson is, it isn't - one, it isn't going to come. It isn't going to come." Video here. In other news, McCain is now 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...

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

Fred Thompson - someone who I don't entirely trust and who in fact doesn't appear to be exactly energetic - has released an immigration plan that actually sounds acceptable (link). First he says he's against amnesty, but aren't they all. But, the surprising bit is that he 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

Like clockwork, the New York Times offers yet another immigration editorial and, of course, they're still wrong ("AinaLike clockwork, the New York Times offers yet another immigration editorial and, of course, they're still wrong ("Ain’t That America", link). Per them, not enacting comprehensive immigration "reform" is yet another in the long line of "greatest historical shames" perpetrated by the U.S. The national mood is slipping into "hatred and fear" against those "documented or not, who speak Spanish and are working-class or poor": The evidence can be seen in any state or town that has...

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

If states and cities enforce immigration laws to the extent that they're able, will that reduce the numbers of illegal aliens in those localities? Of course, one of the stock false choices that politicians and others offer is between massive deportations and a massive 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

As soon as I hear the words "New York Times editorial" I, like no doubt most others, think "wrong". The latest is on display in "The Misery Strategy". Notably, the 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

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, in a meeting with the editorial board of USA Today, admitted that he's not going to do the job he's supposed to be doing, said that the White House will be creating a "rapid response" team to counter criticism from the MSM and from bloggers, and implied that those immigration raids that he'll be conducting in the future will be designed to inflame the left and other illegal immigration supporters. Bottom line: Congress should try to get him fired. Since it's clear that he has not and will not do his job, that should be easy. Except, of course, most of them...

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 years -- you do the following things. You eliminate your support for NAFTA, that was Bill Clinton.

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" (cis dot org/articles/2005/msktestimony101805o.html). As their recent actions show, they weren't paying attention:

"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.