Shortly after the new bipartisan immigration bill was released this week, one opponent, Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, said it contained “a fatal flaw:” the provision for a 10-year process through which some illegal immigrants could gain citizenship.

“It legalizes almost everyone in the country illegally, also known as amnesty, before it secures the border,” Smith said. “As a result, the Senate proposal issues an open invitation to enter the country illegally.”

Smith voices a common fear among border-security hawks: That any so-called “amnesty” or legalization plan will somehow spur more foreigners to make unauthorized dashes across the border. A recent poll by the Rasmussen company found that nearly half of respondents thought a pathway to citizenship would lead to more more illegal immigration.

But here’s one thing that might allay those fears: Mexicans, who make up the plurality of illegal immigrants, are feeling better and better about their country, and fewer are interested in moving across the border.

Though an estimated 300,000 people still enter the U.S. illegally each year, that represents a precipitous fall from the first half of the decade, when the number was 850,000. In 2010, net migration to and from Mexico was approximately zero.

Part of the reason, of course, is the global economic downturn, which eliminated many of the low-wage job opportunities that Mexican immigrants might have come to the U.S. to seek.

via Mexico Is Getting Better, and Fewer Mexicans Want to Leave – Olga Khazan – The Atlantic.