What does Self-Deportation Mean?

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There are many proposals and plans that try to answer important question of what to do with the millions of illegal immigrants currently in the country. One of those solutions is the concept of self-deportation. What exactly does it mean?


Self-deportation is a concept supported by many conservatives as one of the chief means of reducing the number of people who have illegally entered the country and broken any number of laws in order to obtain employment, government benefits, or healthcare services.

Self-deportation is an idea supporting the belief that individuals here illegally will voluntarily leave the country, as they discover that what they illegally entered the country for his unavailable to them. This is achieved through what is often referred to as demagnetization, an attempt to remove the incentives available to those illegally in the country.

Self-deportation requires the enactment of no laws, only that current immigration, employment, and other laws already on the books be enforced. The chief magnet drawing illegal aliens to the United States is employment. Some employers often overlook or ignore the immigration status of workers, instead opting for the cheap labor provided by them. Often, these employees work off the books and pay no taxes. This practice hurts American workers as it reduces available jobs for US citizens and legal immigrants, as well as by artificially deflating the wage rate.

Self-deportation is the chief means by which the United States will be able to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the country. Critics of those who favor strong anti-illegal immigration policies routinely state that it is impossible to "round up" and deport over 10 million illegal aliens. The answer to this is self-deportation, as the ability to live illegally in the country no longer becomes beneficial, and entering the country through proper means is beneficial.

There is some evidence that the concept of self-deportation works. The Pew Hispanic Center released a study in early 2012 that estimated the number of illegal immigrants from Mexico living in the United States dropped by roughly 1 million people, or about 15%, from 2007 to 2012. The chief explanation was the lack of jobs due to the recession and downturn in the economy. Unable to find work, these people self-deported. Similarly, making jobs unavailable to these illegal immigrants through tougher employment enforcement would have a similar effect.

People in favor of the concept of self-deportation typically favor strict immigration laws, a closed border, employment verification programs such as e-verify, and an increase in legal immigration. The increase in support for legal immigration highlights conservative efforts to support the rule of law and respect for the talents and ethics of those who wish to become US citizens the right way.

Pronunciation: self-dee-pohr-tey-shuhn

Also Known As: self-exile, return to home, voluntary expulsion, demagnetized

Alternate Spellings: none

Common Misspellings: self-deportasion, self-deportacion


“The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here. We’re not going to round them up.” - Mitt Romney during a 2012 presidential primary debate in Florida

"[Self Deportation] is not a policy. I think it's an observation of what people will do in a country that's enforcing its immigration laws." - US Senator Marco Rubio

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Hawkins, Marcus. "What does Self-Deportation Mean?" ThoughtCo, Sep. 29, 2020, thoughtco.com/what-does-self-deportation-mean-3303636. Hawkins, Marcus. (2020, September 29). What does Self-Deportation Mean? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-does-self-deportation-mean-3303636 Hawkins, Marcus. "What does Self-Deportation Mean?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-does-self-deportation-mean-3303636 (accessed January 23, 2021).