Mexican immigration to United States slows to standstill

From CNN In AMERICA.

Net Mexican immigration to the United States has slowed to a standstill, according to a report released Monday.

The number of immigrants coming from Mexico to the United States has steeply declined while the number of Mexicans leaving the United States has increased sharply, the Pew Hispanic Center said.

“These developments represent a notable reversal of the historic pattern of Mexican immigration to the U.S., which has risen dramatically over the past four decades,” the center’s report says.

Many factors are probably behind the trend, the report said, including rising deportations, greater enforcement at the border, growing dangers associated with border crossings, the weakened U.S. job market and a long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates.

The 1.37 million Mexican immigrants who came to the United States between 2005 and 2010 was about half the number who immigrated during previous five-year periods, according to the analysis, which was based on national population surveys in the United States and Mexico.

Meanwhile, from 2005 to 2010, 1.39 million Mexicans and their families left the U.S. to return to Mexico, the report says. That’s more than double the number of people who did it during a five-year period the decade before, the report says.

The report also notes, citing figures from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that the number of Mexicans apprehended trying to cross the border illegally has plummeted in recent years, from more than 1 million in 2005 to 286,000 in 2011.

While analysts said for years that immigration from Mexico to the United States was dwindling, the Pew report says 2010 Mexican census data offer some of the first “hard evidence that flows back to Mexico had grown over the same period.”

Arizona Undocumented Workforce is Down

From NPR.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments next week on the most divisive immigration law in recent memory. Arizona’s Legislature passed SB 1070 two years ago, but much of it has been put on hold pending the court’s decision.

Still, supporters say the law has achieved one of its stated goals: Thousands of illegal immigrants have self-deported, leaving the state on their own. The real reason — and consequence — of such a demographic shift may be more complex, however.

Jossie was one of those illegal workers who decided to leave. When police cars drove behind her in traffic, she says, she would start shaking and wouldn’t be able to breathe.

Jossie is still afraid of getting deported, so she asked that her last name be withheld. The summer that SB 1070 became law, she left the Phoenix area with her husband, two children and a cockatoo, Bernie.

The most controversial part of SB 1070 would require police to check the immigration status of those they believe are in the country illegally. A federal judge has blocked that provision, but Jossie was still so nervous driving to work she says she once hyperventilated and lost consciousness on the road.

She moved to New Mexico, where illegal immigrants can get driver’s licenses. Her husband rekindled his catering business, and Jossie is cleaning houses again. She says there’s a “big difference” between Arizona and New Mexico.

“New Mexico [offers] me opportunities. … I am going to do something for New Mexico. I am going to tell my kids to do something good for New Mexico,” she says.

A Population Drop, But No Clear Reason

Recent data from the Department of Homeland Security show Arizona’s illegal immigrant population has fallen by 100,000 since 2009. For statistical reasons, the agency warns against making year-by-year comparisons.

“There are a lot of indications that the unauthorized population in Arizona has dropped,” says Jeffrey Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Center, a group that tracks the U.S. population of illegal immigrants. “But it’s very difficult to say how much it’s decreased and why it’s dropped.”

That’s because earlier in this immigration debate, the state’s economy was in a tailspin. Jobs vaporized in Arizona’s massive construction industry where immigrants tend to work, so it’s hard to know exactly what factors prompted illegal workers to leave the state.

Regardless, Arizona will need a new labor force pretty soon. The research firm IHS Global Insight predicts Arizona will need 41,000 new construction workers by 2015 to keep up with projected demand.

“We’re going to have to reward people that engage in hard labor,” says Dennis Hoffman, an economist at Arizona State University. “If we do that with a domestic labor force, it’s going to cost more.”

‘Just One Battle’

Thinning the state’s illegal workforce is part of the point, according to the legislation’s supporters.

“It’s not a finite victory. It is just one battle. It’s just one phase of it,” says Rey Torres, head of the Arizona Latino Republican Association.

He says the bigger prize would be a federal immigration policy that secures Arizona’s border and improves the flow of commerce between the two countries. He’s open to immigrant workers coming back, as long as someone keeps track of who they are.

“There is nothing in Arizona that tells me we are against immigration,” he says. “We just happen to be against illegal immigration, and we strive to make that distinction.”

Deciding To Stay

Of course, not everyone working illegally in Arizona has left. Ricardo, a 20-year-old college student, is still here. He says he knows countless people who’ve left for other states and a few who went to Mexico or Canada.

“If I leave, I leave everything that I believe in as a person and everything I’ve been working for the past two years,” he says.

Ricardo, who also asked that his last name be withheld, stayed to concentrate on a different kind of work. He helps a group that rallies against laws like SB 1070, making phone calls to recruit and organize supporters.

“I’m tired of running, and I don’t think we’re going to run anymore,” he says.

On Wednesday, Ricardo will follow the arguments in Washington, D.C. He says if the Supreme Court upholds SB 1070, a lot more people will leave Arizona.

Groups Push for Naturalization Ahead of November Presidential Election

From FoxNews Latino.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. –  A number of groups hope to add thousands of new U.S. citizens to the voter rolls in several key states ahead of November’s presidential election.

The national push comes after Democratic President Barack Obama has failed to deliver on promised immigration reforms in his first years in office and his likely opponent, Mitt Romney, adopted harsh rhetoric on illegal immigration to win support from conservatives while campaigning for the GOP nomination.

The Department of Homeland Security says an estimated 12.6 million people were holding so-called green cards given to legal permanent U.S. residents in 2010, including 8.1 million people who already qualify for naturalization but have not applied for citizenship. Latinos, considered a Democratic-leaning constituency, account for the largest immigrant community.

Immigrants and other minority voters helped Obama to a comfortable win over Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

“The fastest growing segment of the American electorate is the Latino vote, and within Latinos, we are seeing very rapid growth of immigrant voters,” said Matt Barreto, a political science professor at the University of Washington. “In the 2012 election there is no doubt that the immigrant community will be incredibly relevant.”

The “Become a Citizen Now!” campaign began in March, hoping to help 5,000 immigrants complete the daunting application process to become citizens and register to vote. It is targeting foreign-born residents who have been in the country long enough to qualify for naturalization in Massachusetts, New York, California, Florida, Maryland, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Tennessee, Illinois, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. Nearly 500 citizenship applications have been completed so far.

Yenith Berrio, a 40-year-old Colombian citizen who has spent half of her life living in the United States, is preparing for her naturalization test and looks forward to becoming a U.S. citizen and registered voter.

The Boston resident said the right to vote allows her to participate in a process that affects her and her family. She said the U.S. is a better place for her and her children who “are happier right here and could get much better education here.”

It typically takes just over five months to acquire citizenship.

“Those immigrants that apply for their citizenship before the end of April are likely to be able to vote in this election in November,” said Josh Hoyt, a co-chair of the National Partnership for New Americans.

A separate push by the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization, seeks to register 180,000 Latinos to vote nationwide. Organizers say the initiative already has registered more than 10,000 voters. The group is conducting the campaign in Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, Texas, North Carolina and online.

When immigrants register, they generally show up to vote. More than 89 percent of registered foreign-born Americans cast ballots in 2008, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

And their share among voters is growing. Among all voters who cast ballots in the 1996 presidential election, 4.1 percent were foreign-born, according to Pew. Eight years later in 2008, the percentage rose to 6.3.

While Immigrants have historically supported candidates in both major political parties, there’s been a recent shift towards Democrats, said Manuel Pastor, director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California.

“There has been sort of a noticeable spin in the last couple of elections toward the Democratic party — but it seems mostly because of the way most of the Republican Party has moved right on immigration and the impact that has on the perception of new immigrant voters.” Pastor said.

Romney has staked out a tough stance on immigration. He favors a U.S.-Mexico border fence, opposes education benefits to illegal immigrants and says he would veto the Dream Act, which would allow some illegal immigrant youths to earn permanent residency and eventually citizenship if they attend college or serve in the military.

Obama had promised during his 2008 campaign to press for a comprehensive immigration policy overhaul that would include providing a path to legalization for millions of illegal immigrants. Yet, more than three years into his term, he has failed to deliver, blaming fiercely divided congressional Republicans who he says are unwilling to work on the issue.

 

Day of Action for Jose!

Dear Friend:
Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 24th, Jose E. Lopez Melgar (from Fort Myers, Florida) will go before a Judge to find out if he qualifies for a bond so that he can return to his family and fight his case against deportation. The good news is, he would not have gotten to this point without your help, which means that your signature on his petition has already been a tremendous boon to Jose’s case.
I would like to request that you make one last effort — make a call to ICE today and demand that he be released without bond! The process takes approximately 1 minute, and all it requires you to do is to call 202-732-3000 & read the following script:

My name is ______, and I am calling to ask that Jose E. Lopez Melgar (A# 088-96-9036) be released from Krome Detention Center. Jose has a bond hearing tomorrow, and should be released on his own recognizance and returned to his family.


Attached, you’ll find a photo of Jose, and for more information on his case, please check out this article by Change.org!

Via Change.org: Students Fight Detention of High School Graduate with a Mental Disability

Students Fight Detention of High School Graduate with a Mental Disability

by Rachel LaBruyere · 2012-04-20 21:44:00 UTC
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On April 9th, Jose Melgar was on his way home from a trip to the grocery store with his mom and sister. Before reaching their house in Fort Myers, Florida, the family was surrounded by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who demanded to see their documents. Ana requested permission to retrieve documents from their home and asked officers if they had a warrant. But, without producing a warrant, they entered the Melgar home, ripping through belongings, while Ana got her paperwork.

Jose came to the United States with his family when he was 6 years old, escaping violence and terror in El Salvador. His mother, Ana, and his sister were both granted protected status, but Jose was not. Ana says that not only did officers ransack the family’s belongings, they also beat Jose before arresting him — and Ana’s family is still not sure why.

Sign Adam Davis’ petition calling for the Jose’s release

Jose is now behind bars at Krome Detention Center, and Ana fears for his mental state. Jose was diagnosed with a mental disability while in school, and his family and friends worry that the combination of trauma from the arrest and beating alongside being held in prison might be too much for him. “My son, to this point, has done everything he can to go down the right track. He didn’t deserve to get detained, much less beaten, by ICE,” says Ana.

Adam Davis, who started the petition calling for Jose’s release, is part of a community project called the Collier County Neighborhood Stories project, which has the objective of collecting community testimonies regarding police-ICE encounters like Jose’s. He says, “Considering the violence that was perpetrated against jose when he was detained, as well as his mental and physical condition, Jose should be freed on his own recognizance and retuned to the loving care of the family.”

Jose, who would qualify for the DREAM Act, has a bond hearing on Tuesday, April 24th. Adam hopes that more supporters signing the petition will help. He and other advocates in Florida are also asking for phone calls to ICE requesting Jose’s release.

From Adam:

Call ICE – John Morton @ 202.732.3000

Sample Script: “”Hi, I am calling to ask that Jose E. Lopez Melgar (A# 088-96-9036) be released from Krome Detention Center. Jose is a high school graduate with a mental disability. He should be released immediately on his own recognizance and returned to his family.”

Immigrant Tax Contributions

From Immigration Impact.

When it comes to the topic of immigration, Tax Day is a reminder of two important and often-overlooked points. First, immigrants pay billions in taxes every year. This is true even of unauthorized immigrants. Second, the federal government spends billions of taxpayer dollars each year on immigration-enforcement measures that wouldn’t be necessary if not for the chronic inability of Congress to reform our badly outdated immigration system. In other words, there is a strong fiscal case to be made for immigration reform. Were the U.S. immigration system to be given a 21st century overhaul, we would likely increase the tax dollars flowing from the immigrant community, and we would spend far less taxpayer money on immigration enforcement.

The taxes paid by unauthorized immigrants illustrate well the fact that everyone in the United States pays taxes, regardless of legal status. All unauthorized immigrants pay sales taxes. They also pay property taxes—even if they rent. And at least half of unauthorized immigrants pay income taxes as well. All of this amounts to billions in revenue to state and local governments. The Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) has estimated the state and local taxes paid in 2010 by households that are headed by unauthorized immigrants (which may include members who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants). Collectively, these households paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes. That included $1.2 billion in personal income taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes, and $8.4 billion in sales taxes.

The tax contributions of currently unauthorized immigrants would be greater were they provided with a pathway to legal status. A 2010 report from the Immigration Policy Center and the Center for American Progress found that the higher earning power of newly legalized workers would generate increased tax revenues of $4.5-$5.4 billion in the first three years following legalization. Because the federal government refuses to create a legalization program, it is missing out on this extra revenue. A 2010 study from the University of Southern California estimated that because unauthorized immigrants in California earn less than they would if they had legal status, the state government lost out on $310 million in income taxes in 2009, while the federal government missed out on $1.4 billion.

Rather than implementing reform, the U.S. government has chosen instead to pour ever-increasing sums into enforcement-only immigration policies. The budget of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) grew from $5.9 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2003—when it was created as part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—to $11.5 billion in FY 2011. The budget of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—the agency with DHS that is responsible for immigration enforcement in the interior of the United States—increased from $3.3 billion in FY 2003 to $5.7 billion in FY 2011. It costs roughly $166 per day for ICE to detain one person, and ICE spends $5.5 million per day to detain 33,400 people in over 250 facilities, according to estimates by the National Immigration Forum.

It is ironic that the federal government devotes so much money to apprehending and detaining unauthorized immigrants who add value to the U.S. economy with their labor, entrepreneurship, consumer purchasing power, and tax payments. While Border Patrol agents chase busboys through the desert, the native-born population is growing older. Roughly 77 million baby boomers will age into retirement over the next few decades, putting greater demands upon the cash-strapped Social Security and Medicare programs. Both of these programs need the tax dollars of new, younger workers—many of whom are, and will be, immigrants. As a result, we must not only create a pathway to legal status for those workers and taxpayers who are currently unauthorized. We also must fashion a flexible system of legal immigration which ensures we receive the immigrant workers and taxpayers our economy needs in the future.

It’s a shame that so many of the lawmakers who create our immigration policies can’t recognize this fact.

Border Patrol Abuses in Washington

From Immigration Impact.

The borderlands of the southwestern United States are not the only place where immigration enforcement tramples upon the most basic of civil and human rights. Many communities along the northern border are also subject to such abuses, as detailed in a recent report from OneAmerica and the University of Washington Center for Human Rights. The report, entitled The Growing Human Rights Crisis Along Washington’s Northern Border, is based on a year’s worth of interviews and observations in border communities in Washington State. This investigation found that Border Patrol agents, often acting in collaboration with local police, repeatedly harass and abuse immigrants, as well as native-born U.S. citizens perceived to look or sound like immigrants.

Specifically, the report documents three “patterns of abuse”:

1. Racial profiling by the Border Patrol.

“My son called me to tell me that he had been pulled over without his license. I told him that it was alright that I would drive out to meet them with his license. When I arrived there were Border Patrol cars surrounding the area. I had to drive back to the house for my kids’ birth certificates because the Border Patrol officers were accusing them of being ‘wetbacks’ despite my kids telling the agents in English that they were American citizens. When I finally got to my kids I went up to the officers and said, ‘You know what, my kids are American. If they weren’t they wouldn’t have said they were. This thing that you are doing here is called racism; just because you see that my kids are brown [Latino].’ The officer replied, ‘Sorry, but this is my job.’ And I said, ‘Ok, but there was no reason for seven Border Patrol cars to come deal with my kids, with two minors. You are treating them as if they were criminals’” (p. 19).

2. Collaboration between the Border Patrol and other law-enforcement agencies.

“The kids were outside running around and playing, and a little girl had an accident and fell between two cars in the driveway. The mother was worried her daughter wasn’t ok and called 911, asking for an ambulance. The mother spoke English but gave her last name, which was Martinez. Shortly afterwards the ambulance, firemen, Sheriff, and Border Patrol arrived. The Border Patrol began to walk around the outside of the party asking people who they were and their names. The family members were U.S. Citizens, but many of their guests ran inside the home and closed the door. Now whenever those people have an accident they will be fearful to call 911 because the men in green will show up. They see police and Border Patrol as the same—as dangerous for our families” (p. 22).

3. The climate of fear created by these practices.

“A 22 year-old friend of mine lives with her husband at her parent-in-law’s house. Every time he beats her and she attempts to call the police the parents-in-law threaten to call immigration on her or tell the officers her immigration status…The domestic violence has gotten worse as time goes by. In fact, now she can’t even talk over the phone because her husband and parents-in-law have the poor girl on lock-down. She is too young to live her life in fear whether she is documented or not” (p. 25).

The report calls for a wide range of administrative and legislative fixes—at the federal, state, and local levels—in order to remedy such injustices. These include policies stating that:

  • The Border Patrol should restrict “enforcement at sensitive locations, including schools, hospitals, places of worship, public religious ceremonies, public demonstrations, and courthouses.”
  • Border Patrol agents “will not engage in enforcement during assistance with emergency checkpoints, health epidemics, or natural disasters.”
  • Border Patrol agents “should not arbitrarily stop, question or arrest individuals without reasonable suspicion or probable cause that the individual has entered the United States illegally.”
  • “State and local police should refrain from asking immigration status.”
  • “State and local police should refrain from enforcing federal immigration laws, including by engaging in interior enforcement operations with Border Patrol agents and requesting translation assistance from Border Patrol.”

The report observes that Border Patrol abuses in Washington State are occurring within the broader context of a post-9/11, nationwide buildup of immigration and border enforcement resources and personnel. Ostensibly, the build up in Washington State is necessary in order to secure the porous border with Canada and keep the country safe from another terrorist attack. But, a decade after the buildup began, “communities of color in Washington State find themselves fearful of the very agencies that are entrusted with their protection,” thanks in large part to the practices of the U.S. Border Patrol.