Sunday, December 5, 2010

Our track record on Mexican immigration...it ain't pretty

I know this is hot topic and emotions run high; makes it perfect for this space.
Figured it was worth checking in on Arizona’s anti-immigration bill (still being called by the innocuous name of SB-1070).  While portions of the law are still being reviewed by the courts, there are some key numbers that are worth noting since the bill was signed into law in April:
100,000: The estimated number of Latino, immigrants, legal and otherwise, who have left Arizona for other states or Mexico.  Many of whom are young and employed leaving the state with an older population of white residents who spend less.
$217Million: Estimated spending by conference visitors that has been lost since the bill’s passage.
$388Million: Lost economic output from cancellations for 2010-2011.
A common argument you can hear from the conservative citizens of Arizona is that if you are here legally you have nothing to worry about.  Really?  Well let’s look at some recent Arizona history.
During the 1930’s 500,000 Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were deported to Mexico for ‘repatriation’ during the Great Depression (analogous to the 2008-2009 Great Recession).  In 1942, while our young men were engaged in fighting WWII, President Roosevelt and Mexico’s President Camacho agreed to send Mexicans to the US as temporary laborers.  This program was named Operation Bracero and by 1945 there were 75,000 working on US railroads and 50,000 working in US Agriculture. This guest worker program ran from 1942 – 1964 and included over 4.5 Million workers.
In 1954 President Eisenhower authorized Operation Wetback (no joke) for the deportation of 1Million illegal Mexican immigrants.  Beginning in California and Arizona, and eventually Texas, 1075 Border Patrol agents along with state and local police agencies mounted the crackdown. Tactics included police sweeps of Mexican-American neighborhoods, and random stops and ID checks of "Mexican-looking" people in Latino and White neighborhoods. Frequently, illegal aliens were deported along with their American-born minor dependent children.  When it was all said and done, over 1.3Million people left of which 1.15Million went voluntarily.   Of the 1.15Million estimates range from 400,000 to 600,000 were actually US citizens or natives.
Hmmmm.  I wonder why the Mexican-American community gets nervous about SB-1070 and similar measures in other states. 

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