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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Xenophobia, Illegal Mexican Immigrants, and Facts

"In 1753, Benjamin Franklin wrote that immigrants who come to America are ...

'generally of the most ignorant stupid sort of their own nation. Not being used to liberty, they know not how to make a modest use of it. They are not esteemed men till they have shown their manhood by beating their mothers. Now they come in droves. Few of their children in the country learn English. The signs in our streets have inscriptions in both languages ...

'Unless the stream of their importation could be turned they will soon so outnumber us that all the advantages we have will not be able to preserve our language, and even our government will become precarious.'

"He was writing about Germans."

(Kavitha Rajagopalan, senior fellow at the World Policy Institute "Anchor babies." 
PBS. Need To Know

Franklin was afraid that immigrants of German ancestry would overwhelm the fledgling United States and change its most basic virtues, possibly bringing an end to the republic. From these early days, American history repeats itself as citizens show their distaste for immigrants. Many of his arguments regarding this community directly mirror those used in today's immigration debate against Latinos.

American historian Kenneth C. Davis said in a New York Times Op-Ed that Franklin's worry about German immigrants is evidence that as long as we have thought of ourselves as a "melting pot" or a "nation of immigrants," we have also harbored a strong strain of xenophobia. In fact, David said: "Anti-immigrant sentiment is older than America itself."

David Cole, legal scholar and staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, says every time we have some crisis of faith about the economy or national security, we restrict the rights of immigrant communities.

Why? Cole claims it’s easier to scapegoat immigrants than to come up with real solutions to the biggest challenges to our society. For example, it’s easier to round up undocumented Muslims than to develop an efficient, thoughtful strategy for dealing with Islamist militancy in the world. And, of course, it’s easier to crack down on undocumented immigrants like Mexicans than to honestly ask ourselves why our economy must rely on a permanent undocumented population.

The flow of illegal immigrants exploded after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the early 1990s, a pact that was supposed to end illegal immigration but wound up dislocating millions of Mexican peasant farmers and many small-industrial workers.

But, by 2012,  the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, reported that the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped and may have reversed, according to a new analysis of government data from both countries.

The standstill appears to be the result of many factors, including the following:

* Weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets as the Great Recession significantly weakened the economy and depressed demand for low-wage workers in construction and also in agriculture and other sectors that traditionally employ Mexican unauthorized workers,

* Heightened border enforcement making it more risky and costly to cross the border,

* Increased deportation of unauthorized immigrants quickly and in record numbers,

* Changed demographic and economic conditions in Mexico including declining birthrates that have resulted in a shrinking pool of potential migrants -- the Mexican economy has meanwhile strengthened and stabilized in recent years, creating new job opportunities, and the country has greatly expanded its educational system, providing young Mexicans who want to improve their lives with viable alternatives to migrating north. 

(Muzaffar Chishti and Faye Hipsman. "In Historic Shift, New Migration Flows from Mexico Fall Below Those from China and India." Migration Policy Institute. May 21, 2015.)

(Jeffrey S. Passel, D’Vera Cohn and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera. "Net Migration from Mexico Falls to Zero—and Perhaps Less." The Pew Research Center. April 23, 2012.)

There are about 11.7 million immigrants are living in the United States illegally, a population that has not varied much over the last three years.

The new estimates, which are based on the most recent census data and other official statistics, show that the population of immigrants here illegally did not decline significantly from 2009 to 2012, despite record numbers of about 400,000 deportations each year and stepped-up border enforcement by the Obama administration as well as laws to crack down on illegal immigration in states like Alabama, Arizona and Georgia.

Recent figures, including reports from the Border Patrol of illegal crossings at the southwest border, suggest that the numbers of these illegal crossings began to grow again some in 2012. But, Pew researchers said the increases in the 2012 census data — the latest available — were too small for them to conclusively confirm the recent rise.

(Julia Preston. "Number of Illegal Immigrants in U.S. May Be on Rise Again, Estimates Say."
The New York Times. September 23, 2013.)

Since Donald Trump, Republican presidential candidate, is spouting anecdotal information about the hordes of illegal immigrants passing into the United States at the Mexican border he claims are rapists and murderers, we should explore the facts about this immigration.

Trump says to prove that the Mexican government is sending these criminals into the United States,  border patrol agents told him it was happening. This hearsay is not credible evidence.

What about claims of mass migration?

“I don’t see any sign of a return to mass undocumented migration from Mexico,” said Douglas Massey, a sociology professor at Princeton who has studied Mexican migration patterns for decades. “The Mexican population in the United States is stable. Self-deportation is not working,” he said, referring to policies advocated by some lawmakers to increase enforcement pressure on illegal immigrants to spur them to leave voluntarily.

(Julia Preston. "Number of Illegal Immigrants in U.S. May Be on Rise Again, Estimates Say."
The New York Times. September 23, 2013.)

And, what about Trump's insistence that second-generation Mexican immigrants -- the children of illegal immigrants who have migrated to the States -- and their families should be deported although the 14th Amendment allows these babies "birthright citizenship"? Those who want these people deported often sarcastically refer to the childbirth by as "drop and leave" call the children "anchor babies."

Louis Jacobson, senior writer for PolitiFact and deputy editor of Roll Call, says it's important to note that having an "anchor baby" won't do much to help a Mexican mom become a United States citizen. Citizen children cannot sponsor their parents for citizenship until they turn 21, and if the parents were ever illegal, they would have to return home for 10 years before applying to come into the States. So, having a baby to secure citizenship for its parents is an extremely long-term, and uncertain, process.

(Louis Jacobson. "Fact-checking the claims about 'anchor babies' and whether illegal immigrants 'drop and leave.'" Tampa Bay Times. August 06, 2010.)

Granted, having a citizen child can produce some short-term benefits, said Marc Rosenblum, a senior policy analyst for the Migration Policy Institute. Pregnant women and nursing mothers could be eligible for certain benefits under the Women-Infants-Children (WIC) program, which provides food and nutrition vouchers, and their children could enroll in Medicaid, although the undocumented parents could not.

Having a child can also help an undocumented parent qualify for relief from deportation, but only 4,000 unauthorized immigrants can receive such status per year, and the alien has to have been in the U.S. for at least 10 years. That means very long odds, Rosenblum said.

Jacobson says most of the benefits of citizenship accrue over the much longer term.

The child will be able to work here legally once he or she is old enough, said Roberto Suro, a communications and journalism professor at the University of Southern California who specializes in Hispanic issues, and when they're ready for college, they'll qualify for in-state tuition at most public colleges. "It is a hell of a lot of deferred gratification at best," he said.

(Louis Jacobson. "Fact-checking the claims about 'anchor babies' and whether illegal immigrants 'drop and leave.'" Tampa Bay Times. August 06, 2010.)

In 2010, nearly two-thirds of unauthorized immigrants had lived in the U.S. for at least a decade and nearly half (46%) were parents of minor children. More than 1 in 3 have lived in the country for 15 years or more.

Unauthorized immigrants make up 25% of farm workers (not including temporary workers), according to 2008 data in a Pew Hispanic Center report that also includes estimates of unauthorized immigrant shares of other occupations and industries. This report includes details on school enrollment by unauthorized immigrant children and by U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants; and estimates of educational attainment, income, poverty rates and health insurance status of unauthorized immigrants.

Among U.S. adults, 28% say the priority for dealing with illegal immigration should be given to tighter restrictions on illegal immigration while 27% say creating a path to citizenship should be the priority. A plurality (42%) says both tactics should be given equal priority. Just 10% of Latinos say priority should be given to better border security and enforcement.

(Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. 2012.)

(Jeffrey S. Passel and D'Vera Cohn. "Unauthorized Immigrants: 11.1 Million in 2011."
Pew Research Center. December 06, 2012)

Walls and Bridges

Trump proposes building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to stop illegal immigration. Will that help? If so, how much? After all, the federal government has already spent $2.3 billion to build such a fence -- 649 miles of steel fencing, in sections, between the U.S. and Mexico, designed to help control the illegal movement of people and contraband.

It's called tactical infrastructure, and the Border Patrol says it works. But people on the lower Texas border have another name for it: "a boondoggle." "That has been the biggest waste of money," says Ramon Garcia, county judge of Hidalgo, the most populous county in the region.

(John Burnett. "In South Texas, Few On The Fence Over Divisive Border Wall Issue."
National Public Radio. 

Ralph Basham, former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and director of the U.S. Secret Service, speaks of walling off Mexico ...

"Building a physical fence along the entire border with Mexico was one of the dumbest ideas I heard when I was commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It is critical to recognize that fencing (even with barbed wire, electrification, and possibly a moat filled with alligators) is not a solution, it is only a tool. There's a fundamental misunderstanding about what a physical barrier—even the triple-layer fencing in San Diego--actually does or doesn't do for the agency charged with building fencing and securing the border. All it really does is buy you time where a crosser could otherwise quickly escape or assimilate. None of the fencing is impenetrable."

Basham says fencing in poor soil, flood plains or sand dunes can also be more expensive than effective because of terrain challenges. The cost of more than $6 million per mile for specialized fence is not the most effective use of resources to better secure that area of border. He claims any successful strategy must rely more heavily on highly trained, dedicated law enforcement officers and better technology tools ad key components.

(Ralph Basham. "Why a Border Fence Wouldn't Work."
U.S. News and World Report. October 25, 2011.)

Walling off America brings remembrance of President Reagan's famous speech in West Berlin in which he called upon Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."

Rep. Jose Serrano of New York, recently declared, "We need more bridges, not walls. If we do build a 2,000 mile barrier between the United States and Mexico, one day a leftist Mexican president will stand up and throw Reagan's heartfelt words back at us: "Mr. President, tear down this wall!"

Who Else Is Coming Illegally?

Today, 33.5 million people of Mexican origin live in the United States. Of course, a significant number of illegals do cross the border to have a baby here, but Mexicans are not the only group doing so.
Lauren Weber, a midwife in San Diego, said that some patients from Mexico have confided to her that they've temporarily secured a U.S. address and a utility bill, which is typically enough to qualify them for birth-related care paid by California's version of Medicaid.
"There are a million hardworking Hispanic people in San Diego who came here to work and then happened to have a baby," Weber said. "Then there are people who come over in order to have a baby."
The midwife estimated that in the clinic where she works part time, a third to a quarter of her patients have come over for the express purpose of having a baby, and the rest are staying in the U.S. for the longer term, whatever their legal status may be.

But, Weber also noted that she's treated wealthier patients who get the proper visas and fly to the United States to have a child. They come from such countries as China, Pakistan and India. Less affluent Filipinos have also come on tourist visas, she said, and some affluent Mexicans come to give birth as well.

Keith Richburg of The Washington Post reports ...

"What can $14,750 buy you in modern China? Not a Tiffany diamond or a mini-sedan, say Robert Zhou and Daisy Chao. But for that price, they guarantee you something more lasting, with unquestioned future benefits: a U.S. passport and citizenship for your new baby.

"Zhou and Chao, a husband and wife from Taiwan who now live in Shanghai, run one of China's oldest and most successful consultancies helping well-heeled expectant Chinese mothers travel to the United States to give birth.

"The couple's service, outlined in a PowerPoint presentation, includes connecting the expectant mothers with one of three Chinese-owned "baby care centers" in California. For the $14,750 basic fee, Zhou and Chao will arrange for a three-month stay in a center -- two months before the birth and a month after. A room with cable TV and a wireless Internet connection, plus three meals, starts at $35 a day. The doctors and staff all speak Chinese. There are shopping and sightseeing trips.
"The mothers must pay their own airfare and are responsible for getting a U.S. visa, although Zhou and Chao will help them fill out the application form."

(Keith B. Richburg. "For many pregnant Chinese, a U.S. passport for baby remains
a powerful lure." The Washington Post. July 18, 2010)

"Birth tourists" have credentials. Many people from other countries have made a decision to make their future in the United States rather than in their home country, and part of building a better life in the U.S. is having citizenship for their children. Affluent birth tourists are not illegally crossing the Rio Grande or the Sonoran desert. They are coming here with the proper legal papers and giving birth.

But, approximately 20 percent of immigrants are illegally entering the United States from countries other than Latin neighbors. Statistics say 9 percent of undocumented aliens in America are from Asia, and 11 percent are from Europe, Canada, Africa, and other countries. The population of people here illegally is much more diverse than people might think.

According to Pew's estimates, 5.8 million of the people here without authorization in 2012 were from Mexico. Another 1.4 million were from Asia. In 2015, the Census Bureau announced that China and India had passed Mexico as the place of origin for new immigrants. The U.S. Census Bureau revealed that its American Community Survey shows 147,000 Chinese arrived to live in the United States in 2013, while 129,000 immigrants came from India. Mexico was the country of origin for 125,000 immigrants in the same calendar year.

China was also the leading country of origin for individuals granted asylum in the United States, accounting for 34 percent in 2013. For China, in particular, significant emigration has occurred only since the government liberalized travel for its citizens in the 1980s after the United States and China normalized diplomatic relations in 1979.

(Kent McDill. "What Has Changed in Immigration." May 11, 2015)

Let's Just Deport 'Em -- At What Cost?
The current cost of apprehending, detaining, processing, and transporting one individual in deportation proceedings is $23,482.

The Center for American Progress estimated that it would cost $200 billion (in 2008 dollars) to deport all undocumented immigrants in the United States. CAP further wrote:

"That amount, however, does not include the annual recurring border and interior enforcement spending that will necessarily have to occur. It would cost taxpayers at least another $17 billion annually (in 2008 dollars) to maintain the status quo at the border and in the interior, or a total of nearly $85 billion over "five years. that means the total "five-year immigration enforcement cost under a mass deportation strategy would be approximately $285 billion."

(Center for American Progress, March 2010)

What Americans Say About Illegals Becoming Citizens

A recent Associated Press poll about Americans' view of immigration reform found that "more than 6 in 10 Americans now favor allowing illegal immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens, a major increase in support." The poll also found that 55 percent of seniors and that 57 percent of Americans without a college degree support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. It added that "59 percent of whites now favor a way for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship, up from 44 percent in August 2010, and 41 percent in September 2009."

(The Associated Press. January 22, 2013.)

Illegal Immigrants and the Effect on the American Economy

The boost to the American economy may have something to do with the favorable numbers of U.S. citizens supporting citizenship for illegals. "All the data suggests that people come here to work -- especially Mexicans, and especially illegal Mexicans," said Roberto Suro.  "If people came here because they were looking for work, you would expect to see the flow fluctuate with employment opportunities -- and that’s what the data shows. If people came here to have babies, the flows would be pretty constant, and they are not."

Men, in particular come to America to work. "There's something else you don't see," Suro said. "If having a baby was a significant driving factor in illegal immigration, you would expect to see a higher percentage of women of child-bearing age in the U.S. illegally compared to men of the same age." In fact, just the opposite is the case. Numbers from the Pew Hispanic Center show that in four separate age ranges between 20 and 40, undocumented men significantly outnumber undocumented women.

(Louis Jacobson. "Fact-checking the claims about 'anchor babies' and whether illegal immigrants 'drop and leave.'" Tampa Bay Times. August 06, 2010.)

So, consider that undocumented aliens paid $11.2 billion in taxes in 2010, according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. About half of all illegal immigrants pay some form of federal taxes.

New York Times columnist David Brooks noted that "over the course of their lives," undocumented immigrants "pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits." He added, "Furthermore, according to the Congressional Budget Office, giving the current illegals a path to citizenship would increase the taxes they pay by $48 billion and increase the cost of public services they use by $23 billion, thereby producing a surplus of $25 billion."

(The New York Times. January 31, 2013.)  

A 2009 study by the Center for Global Trade Analysis at Purdue University that examined the effects on the U.S. economy of three different scenarios -- full deportation, full legalization, and full legalization with increased border control -- found that mass deportation of undocumented Mexican workers would "cause a considerable loss to the US economy in terms of real GDP." Economists Angel Aguiar and Terrie Walmsley wrote:

"The deportation of all undocumented Mexican workers causes a loss in real GDP of 0.61 percent. Legalization on the other hand, has a positive effect on real GDP regardless of border control. Although the extent to which the border remains porous, causes larger gains in real GDP, 0.53 percent as opposed to 0.17 percent in the border control scenario."

(Research in Agricultural & Applied Economics. July 2009)

In a 2012 report about the economic benefits of comprehensive immigration reform published by the Cato Institute, UCLA professor and immigration expert Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda found that passing immigration reform "would raise wages, increase consumption, create jobs, and generate additional tax revenue." He wrote:

"The historical experience of legalization under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act indicates that comprehensive immigration reform would raise wages, increase consumption, create jobs, and generate additional tax revenue. Even though IRCA was implemented during a period that included a recession and high unemployment (1990-91), it still helped raise wages and spurred increases in educational, home, and small business investments by newly legalized immigrants.

"Taking the experience of IRCA as a starting point, we estimate that comprehensive immigration reform would yield at least $1.5 trillion in added U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) over 10 years."

 (Cato Institute, Winter 2012.)

The Wall Street Journal noted that labor economist Richard Vedder of Ohio University "looked at the relationship between immigration and U.S. unemployment throughout the 20th century and found that higher levels of immigration coincided with lower levels of unemployment."

(The Wall Street Journal. June 18, 2012.)

After examining a host of studies that looked at how immigration and offshoring affected U.S. employment, economists Gianmarco Ottaviano, Giovanni Peri, and Greg Wright concluded that evidence gleaned from the United States between 2000 and 2007 "shows that immigrant and native workers are more likely to compete against offshoring than against each other." They went on to write:

"These empirical results together imply that immigrant workers do not compete much with natives, but rather compete for tasks that could be more easily performed by offshore workers. Since immigrants specialize in the most "manual-intensive" tasks, an increase in immigration is more likely to reduce the range of offshored tasks in an industry without affecting the employment level and type of tasks performed by natives.

"Offshore workers, on the other hand, specialize in tasks at an intermediate level of complexity and compete more directly with natives, thereby taking some of their jobs and pushing them toward more cognitive-intensive tasks."

( November 18, 2010.) 

(Mike Burns, Hannah Groch-Begley, David Shere, Hilary Tone, and Solange Uwimana. "10 Myths Conservative Media Will Use Against Immigration Reform." Media Matters For America. February 1, 2013.

Most migrants come to the United States in response to the labor demand and are often motivated by economic problems at home. Many are staying to further their educational dreams.

Emily DeRuy, who covers education for the National Journal "Next America" project, reports while Hispanic students are still more likely than whites to drop out of high school in the first place, Latino high school dropout rates have declined by about half since 2000. Just 14 percent of Latinos between the ages of 16 and 24 were high school dropouts in 2011, compared to 28 percent in 2000.

Latinos are now integrating into society like waves of immigrants before them, even surpassing whites in college enrollment in 2012, fear persists (even in those with PhDs from Harvard).

(Emily Deruy. "Hispanic Grads More Likely to Enroll in College Than Whites."
ABC News. May 9, 2013.)

The United States of America is still the Land of Dreams. May it always remain a place where people from other countries seeking freedom come. I believe the xenophobia citizens feel about their future being peopled by threatening, illegal aliens cannot be allowed to escalate and stop the vital stream of lifeblood that strengthens our nation. I think it is paramount that Mexico and the United States find more mutual benefits in establishing stronger economic relations and sensible immigration reform.

Plane Wreck at Los Gatos
(also known as "Deportee")

Words by Woody Guthrie, Music by Martin Hoffman

The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
They're flying 'em back to the Mexican border
To pay all their money to wade back again

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees"

My father's own father, he waded that river,
They took all the money he made in his life;
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
And they rode the truck till they took down and died.

Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
Our work contract's out and we have to move on;
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys and died on your plains.
We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, "They are just deportees"

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except "deportees"?

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