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August 09, 2007

What The Immigrants See

A bit earlier I talked about the country's backslide on immigration, and the spate of local ordinances and restrictionist policies making the lives of immigrants harder and leaving them feeling more insecure. Well, we're already seeing the effects:

This year a smaller percentage of Mexican immigrants in the United States sent money back to their homeland than in 2006, according to a report released yesterday by the Inter-American Development Bank. The bank said the reduction had left at least two million people in Mexico without the same financial help they had once received.

Bank officials, pointing to a survey of Mexican immigrants in the report, said the decline reflected a rising sense of insecurity and uncertainty about whether they would stay in the United States. Anticipating a possible move back to Mexico, these immigrants appear to be saving more. [...]

Mr. Terry said the slowdown would affect about 500,000 Mexican homes. “For those families in Mexico, there is going to be economic and social dislocation,” he said.[...]

In the survey, only 49 percent of the Mexicans living in states with relatively recent immigration said they expected to be living in the United States five years from now. Sergio Bendixen, a Miami pollster who conducted the survey, said the percentage of Mexicans considering a return to their country was the highest in the more than two decades he has interviewed Hispanic immigrants.

The immigrants in the survey included American citizens and legal and illegal residents. They identified discrimination as the biggest problem they faced, with 83 percent saying that discrimination against Latin American immigrants in general was growing in the United States.

August 9, 2007 in Immigration | Permalink


So, so sad. Oh, wait, that's only what the NYT (and Ezra) want you to think.

If either of them wanted to be intellectually honest, they'd discuss the elephant in the room: corruption. Not only do remittances prop up corrupt foreign governments, U.S. firms - and even the U.S. government - are corrupted by money earned illegally. Banks and the FederalReserve are rushing to profit from illegal immigration by charging fees on the money that illegal aliens send home.

Surely, Ezra can see the danger in the FederalReserve seeking to profit from illegal activity, right? Yet, that's a public policy that (at least in this post) he supports.

Posted by: TLB | Aug 9, 2007 12:45:56 PM

Part of the problem with illegal immigration is that it sours people on immigration in general, which in turn makes life worse for those who were born here or immigrated legally.

A rational immigration policy just isn't that hard to envision, it's a real pity that it's got about zero chance of implementation.

Posted by: TW Andrews | Aug 9, 2007 12:52:08 PM

Lone Wacko, I assure you, it doesn't make you look smart or original to compulsively leave out spaces like you do.

Part of the problem with illegal immigration is that it sours people on immigration in general,

Does it really? I mean, I guess it's possible, but I find it hard to believe that the anti-immigrant crowd is led by the compulsive, dogmatic, "law and order" crowd rather than the anti-Hispanic or the anti-foreigner-in-general or the anti-poor people crowds. Where's the equivalent outrage about speeding or underage drinking or cheating on taxes or all the other theoretically-harmful-but-minor-in-practice crimes?

To some slight degree, sure, it makes things worse in the public eye that some people are coming to this country illegally. I just doubt that it's a big part of the problem.

Posted by: Cyrus | Aug 9, 2007 1:10:00 PM

Not sure I agree with the conclusion that it's all about ordinances and restrictions.

Construction has tanked and the broader economy is weak and getting weaker, so less remittances back to mexico and growing uncertainty about length of stay make sense without bringing politics into it.

Posted by: greg | Aug 9, 2007 1:20:40 PM

cyrus, maybe if you were actually interested in the views of people who don't agree with you, instead of only being interested in making charactures, you'd understand what he meant.

Yes, people resent having to compete with workers who are willing to work here for 3.50 cents an hour, and that the elite in this country refuse to actually enforce laws, instead pretending that they are unenforceable when they aren't. Perhaps if we actually fined employers gigantic sums of money when they hired illegals, instead of allowing local officials to wave the fine, we could do something about this. But make no mistake, most of the people who are angry about immigration are angry that their wages haven't increased in 30 years. They don't just hate brown people like you seem to like to pretend.

Posted by: soullite | Aug 9, 2007 1:27:04 PM

Without agreeing wholeheartedly with anyone here, I think there's a level of complexity to this that doesn't lend itself to simple "good/bad" pronouncements: yes, it's hard knowing Mexicans depending on family contributions from here struggle, but surely the Mexican government, as well as the Mexican economy, has a role here that someone needs to be accountable for; our immigration problem is about more than Mexico; and the issues Mexican "shadow workers" face here need to be put into a context that includes other workers as well. There's no escaping the fact that we've dug ourselves a huge hole in this immigration mess, but the size and complexity of the problems is what makes simple pronouncements and easy solutions of not much use. And if the pressure for immigration reform is going to increase because financial renumeration to Mexico is down, does that really say we're looking at a solution with a human approach, or a financial solution that is less concerned with real people's problems, and more with economic benefits all around?

Posted by: weboy | Aug 9, 2007 1:48:55 PM

Mexico is a fabulously wealthy country. Few in countries in the world are better off in natural wealth and industrious people.

If people who say they cared about Mexicans well being really did [and in my estimation...they don't], they would ask the obvious question between the disconnect between the poverty of the people and the wealth of the Mexican nation.

For far too long elites in both Mexico and the United States have created deals that impoverish both it's peoples in an effort to enrich themselves. For far too long we have looked at the symptoms and confused them with the cause.

Isn't interesting that Mexico has the tax system the US elites want Americans to adopt? The root cause of Mexican poverty is bound tightly to the endemic corruption, the corruption stems from the fact that public servants are paid subhuman salaries, but in turn are allowed to prey on the people they are supposed to serve. The US elite does not call for reform, rather it props up the Mexican system. Why? Because..the elites of this country want the US to be more like Mexico. To borrow a phrase, the Mexican government knows it could be drowned in a bathtub and so it serves it conquistador masters with great care.

As ordinary US citizens, we have a stake in the Mexican tax structure just as we have in are own. If Mexico did not live so close to the United States, it would be clear that it is a failed state in all but name. This is not for some failing of the Mexican people, but because of the children of the conquistadors unsated greed.

As a common person, I am always disgusted by the ruling elites contempt for honor and duty. These people claim to be Christians and yet with every breath they spew contempt for Christ's Admonitions to the wealthy. How they can lack the vision to see that their life would be no worse, were they to [ever so lightly] put their shoulder to the wheel is beyond me.

Posted by: S Brennan | Aug 9, 2007 1:52:19 PM


Posted by: Maestro | Aug 9, 2007 3:04:02 PM

Greg makes a very important point -- any discussion of the current state of Mexico-to-US immigration that does not include some attention to the weakening US economy and/or the huge falloff in the homebuilding market is missing something very critical.

Posted by: Fiat Lux | Aug 9, 2007 3:10:45 PM

Soullite, all that has nothing to do with the legal immigrants. It's illegal to pay people $0.035 an hour regardless of how they got here. Being mad at employers of illegal immigrants is... being mad at the employers of illegal immigrants, not the legal immigrants or their employers, which is what TW Andrews was talking about.

TW argued that one problem with illegal immigration, and our policies towards immigrants, is the effect they have on legal immigrants. I disagreed, arguing that people simply concerned about the law for its own sake aren't that common. I could very well be wrong about that, but you didn't even address it.

And it's "waive" the fine, not "wave."

Posted by: Cyrus | Aug 9, 2007 5:50:00 PM

The survey about immigrants considering going home should have distinguished between legals and illegals. Maybe it did but the NY Times just didn't report it. Illegals should be considering going home more and more. That's the point of all this. It's called attrition through enforcement. Turn up the pressure and deport a few and many more will go home voluntarily.

Posted by: pjgoober | Aug 9, 2007 7:15:39 PM

Its a sweet deal for Mexico's politicos. They get to ship all their young, aggressive, ambitious, hard working, angry, disgruntled people to the USA while they get to prey on all the feeble, disinterested people who support the Mexican status quo.

America's open door policy for Mexicans is a GUARANTEE that Mexico will be a corrupt 3rd world country for generations.

Posted by: joe blow | Aug 9, 2007 7:28:58 PM

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