Valeria Fernandez, New American Media, July 11, 2011
People on both sides of the immigration debate in Arizona are skeptical of new research that shows a national decrease in the flow of illegal immigration from Mexico into the United States. But there is one thing they are certain of: undocumented immigrants are steering clear of the border state.
“I think they are just avoiding Arizona,” said Jesse Hernández, a real estate agent who works in the Maryvale neighborhood where the exodus of immigrants, due to the crackdown on illegal immigration and the implosion of the housing market, is especially visible. “They are going to California and other places. No matter how much worse things are in the U.S., they are still coming over here. It’s a human interest to look for a better opportunity.”
A study released last year by BBVA Bancomer Research, a financial institution in Mexico, found that 100,000 Latinos had fled the state [Arizona] in 2010. Based on remittance information, the study estimated that about 23,000 of them were Mexican nationals who returned to Mexico from June through September 2010.
Beyond SB 1070, says [Mark] Krikorian, Arizona’s experience with another immigration law pushed immigrants away. That was an employer sanctions law passed in 2007 that made it mandatory for businesses to use a federal database known as E-Verify to check the immigration status of their new hires and also made them subject to penalties if they knowingly hired unauthorized workers.
It was Arizona’s success stemming the flow of illegal immigration that inspired other states to enact legislation similar to SB 1070, according to Krikorian. But he believes is too early to tell what will happen in places like Georgia that recently enacted legislation even tougher than the Arizona law.