Illegal Immigrants Increasingly Go North

Robin Emmott, Reuters, January 15, 2008

Illegal immigrants from Latin America are heading deeper into the United States to find work and avoid deportation as crackdowns in border states like Texas and Arizona make life more difficult for them.

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Washington hired thousands more Border Patrol agents last year to help deport immigrants who entered illegally or outstayed their visas, carry out workplace raids, jail illegals and push police to enforce immigration laws.

While workplace raids are common in central and northern states, Arizona and Texas are now arguably the toughest places for undocumented immigrants.

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Family networks in border states are still a strong pull for new immigrants and some are willing to risk living in Texas, which has a Hispanic heritage and big Hispanic population.

But migrant shelters and people smugglers are warning illegal immigrants that they need to go farther north to last long in the United States.

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BETTER PAY UP NORTH

For decades, illegal immigrants have crossed the border into the United States, where an estimated 12 million live and work in the shadows. Many would traditionally settle in the four border states, where there are plenty of temporary jobs on farms, in construction and in the service economy.

But better wages in northern states—such as Virginia, Maryland and Washington—amid a slowing U.S. economy are also changing that trend.

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According to a study by Pew Hispanic Center research institute, some 57 U.S. counties in mainly northern and central states doubled their population of Hispanics, including both legal and illegal immigrants, between 2000 and 2006.

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People smugglers in Tijuana near San Diego say they are taking more migrants north to Oregon and Illinois, bypassing California.

“We are charging $3,000 a crossing instead of $2,000 for California and it means more time on the road, but people can expect better wages and will see less of the Border Patrol,” a smuggler told Reuters.

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