How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Illegal immigration is down, so why do we keep talking like it isn't?

Photo by The Pope/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A new stretch of border fence, February 2009

A new Gallup poll shows that nearly two out of every three Americans is "dissatisfied with the level of immigration into the country," and that 42 percent want it to decrease. And yet it already has.

The poll results come a little more than a month after Homeland Security officials announced that the arrests of undocumented immigrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally have dipped to a historic low, a level not seen since the early 1970s.

And while the stats recorded by the U.S. Border Patrol aren't perfect, combined with other research, they point to illegal immigration now being down to a mere trickle. In 2000, the agency apprehended 1.6 million people at the border; only 327,577 were caught in fiscal year 2011.

So what gives? The Gallup poll, the results of which were released yesterday, doesn't distinguish between legal and illegal immigration, but chances are it's the latter that respondents continue to be upset about. From the poll results: