Preliminary evidence suggests that a downturn in unauthorized immigrants has reversed itself. Photographer: Matt Nager/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Jon Judd
Preliminary evidence suggests that a downturn in unauthorized immigrants has reversed itself. Photographer: Matt Nager/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Jon Judd

I wasn’t the only commentator to find something ironic in the huge political prominence of immigration over the last year, because during the Great Recession, immigration actually went in reverse. We took up the question of immigration reform, it seemed, just as illegal immigrants were a shrinking proportion of our population -- and despite the fact that these immigrants were leaving faster than they were arriving, the resistance to making it easier to be here legally was fierce.

But that was then, and this is now. Yesterday Pew released a report indicating that the reverse migration may have, well, reversed. In some ways this is a very good sign: It indicates that the economy is picking up, creating more jobs for immigrants who couldn’t find work when the long construction boom screeched to a halt. But it will further complicate any attempt to get comprehensive immigration reform passed, because one of the selling points was that not that many new people wanted to come here anyway.