I’ve seen this reported for the last six months or so but a high-profile article in the New York Times may push the point home:
PHOENIX — The signs of flight among Latino immigrants here are multiple: Families moving out of apartment complexes, schools reporting enrollment drops, business owners complaining about fewer clients.
While it is too early to know for certain, a consensus is developing among economists, business people and immigration groups that the weakening economy coupled with recent curbs on illegal immigration are steering Hispanic immigrants out of the state.
The Arizona economy, heavily dependent on growth and a Latino work force, has been slowing for months. Meanwhile, the state has enacted one of the country’s toughest laws to punish employers who hire illegal immigrants, and the county sheriff here in Phoenix has been enforcing federal immigration laws by rounding up people living here illegally.
“It is very difficult to separate the economic reality in Arizona from the effects of the laws because the economy is tanking and construction is drying up,” said Frank Pierson, lead organizer of the Arizona Interfaith Network, which advocates for immigrants’ rights and other causes. But the combination of factors creates “ a disincentive to stay in the state.”
I’m sure that some may bemoan this as a sign of the plight of poor Mexican economic refugees but I see it somewhat differently. First, it’s exactly what you’d expect in a free market for labor between the United States and Mexico and I think that the situation between Mexico and the United States can be looked at as a free market from the Mexican perspective. Labor flows to where the opportunities are. But, more importantly, it’s a message to my fellow citizens who are concerned about an unending flow of immigrants, legal and illegal, from our southern border. Demographic, economic, legal, and other circumstances working in combination can work to stem that.
I also believe that it would really be in our best interest to encourage the serious economic and social reforms that Mexico really needs to produce more economic growth there. We haven’t seen a great deal of that from the Bush Administration and, unfortunately, I can’t see that happening under either an Obama or Clinton Administration, either.