February 5, 2008

Impact of Illegal Immigrant Laws being felt

Marc Comtois

Tough laws in Arizona and Oklahoma are driving illegal immigrants to Texas (h/t):

Illegal immigrants are flowing into Texas across its long borders. But they aren't just swimming across the Rio Grande from Mexico or making dangerous treks through the rugged desert.

Instead, a new rush of illegal immigrants are driving down Interstate 35 from Oklahoma or heading east to Texas from Arizona to flee tough new anti-illegal immigrant laws in those and other states.

Though few numbers are available because illegal residents are difficult to track, community activists say immigrants have arrived in Houston and Dallas in recent months, and they expect hundreds more families to relocate to the Bayou City soon.

''They're really tightening the screws," said Mario Ortiz, an undocumented Mexican worker who came to Houston after leaving Phoenix last year. ''There have been a lot coming — it could be 100 a day."

The growing exodus is the result of dozens of new state and local laws aimed at curbing illegal immigration. The two toughest measures are in Oklahoma and Arizona.

The Oklahoma statute, which took effect in November, makes it a crime to transport, harbor or hire illegal immigrants. Effective Jan. 1, the Arizona law suspends the business license of employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. On a second offense, the license is revoked.

''It's a wave that's happening across the United States," said Nelson Reyes, executive director of the Central American Resource Center in Houston, which has helped immigrants who recently relocated in Houston from Virginia and South Carolina. ''There is a migration, within the United States, to the states and cities more receptive to the reality of the undocumented immigrant."

So far, results of the new laws have been dramatic.

The short-term affect on the Oklahoma City economy has been negative:
''Thirty percent of our Hispanic labor force left Tulsa — it was a huge hit, and it was almost overnight," said Greg Simmons, owner of Simmons Homes, Tulsa's largest home builder.

Based on his conversations with subcontractors, Simmons said they went to Texas and Kansas or returned to Mexico....Business leaders say local police in Tulsa have mounted a campaign to target immigrants and have deported many after they were arrested for minor traffic offenses.

''I think we swung the pendulum too far; we're hurting people, the immigrant families, and we're going to hurt the economy," said Mike Means, executive vice president of the Oklahoma State Homebuilders Association, which has 3,600 members across the state.

The effect of the new law can be seen in the many signs advertising rental property vacated by departing immigrants, said David Castillo, the executive director of the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

''There's been a tremendous impact in Oklahoma City," Castillo said. "We've had several companies close shop and leave the state. Banks have called us and say they're closing 30 accounts per week."

Requiring companies to hire legal workers (either with a work visa or who are American citizens) would eventually help the economy long-term as wages would inevitably rise. Too many companies have been operating under the assumption that cheap, easy (under the table) labor was available. A new reality has set in and they will have to adjust (kinda like state government, no?).

Finally, Enrique Hubbard, Mexico's consul general in Dallas, thinks that most immigrants "...will relocate [within the United States]. They will at least give it one more try... It's very difficult to cross the border, and expensive, too." Essentially, barring the passage of national immigration reform, we have a system that is evolving into states that either repel or attract illegal immigrants, based on their current laws.

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they may as well come to rhode island where they can expect to be signed up into unions if matt jerzyk has his way and to be shielded if the new bill submitted by joe almeida passes-and that bill couldn't be passed if only one man supported it-think perry,metts,handy,ajello,giannini,levesque,paiva-weed-and cheerleading by piece of dogcrap steven brown(just as soon as he's done protecting sex offenders)-i hope the legislature wakes up before rhode island turns into a socialist mini-state out of touch with the rest of the country-wow,how did i forget david segal?the puppy rep with the rich parents?

Posted by: joe at February 5, 2008 1:10 PM

has anyone seen the screed patrick crowley just posted on ri's future,accusing RIILE members of being racist by association-well,the crew at ri's future seem to be congenitally predisposed to throwing out lies and hoping they stick-i have attended several RIILE meetings and never once heard racial epithets nor even any anti-immigrant talk-what i have heard is people frustrated with violation of federal laws on a massive scale being winked at or condoned by allegedly responsible government officials-amazing how a law student like matt jerzyk loses any ability to use accurate language when addressing this problem-how does this individual get passing grades?the law is precise to a fault where language is concerned-words have specific legal meanings-i guess jerzyk confuses the law with toilet paper-when you need it use it-otherwise pay it no mind-my concern with illegal aliens is not related to cultural issues-not even so much the economy because i admit to being somewhat in the dark as to the actual effect of illegal immigration on the economy-i think on the one hand it lowers employer costs,but on the other hand it depresses the wage levels available to citizens and resident aliens- my main concern is that a total lack of control and knowledge of who's here leads to a serious internal security threat not to mention a reservoir of criminal activity,both organized and free lance-the USA must have the ability to expel individuals who pose a danger to society expeditiously without endless legal maneuvering by the aclu and other traitorous groups

Posted by: joe at February 5, 2008 9:48 PM
The short-term affect on the Oklahoma City economy has been negative:

Just out of curiosity, how do you know it will be a short-term effect? I understand the desire for optimistic results. I mean, the whole argument about strict enforcement of current immigration laws being beneficial kind of hinges on a positive outcome (or at least a return to normal) in places like Oklahoma City.

Oh, and btw, what sort of time span do you consider short term... weeks, months, years, decades, generations? The effect has been playing out since the first of the year, right? That's what, 5 weeks so far? Will the economic down-turn last longer than it takes to get back to the even point? Or will it be the opposite, getting back (to where the economy was before) will last longer than it took to get to the most negative impact?

Posted by: smmtheory at February 5, 2008 11:02 PM

Coincidentally, this online piece on today's American Spectator web site well illuminates the negative impact of illegal immigration:

Immigration Reversals


Posted by: Tom W at February 5, 2008 11:13 PM

Was that article suppose to address the questions I asked?

Posted by: smmtheory at February 6, 2008 12:05 PM

I still fail to see why America can't adopt the same three-word policy against illegal aliens that Mexico has against aliens from THEIR southern border.

Posted by: Greg at February 6, 2008 12:57 PM

"Welcome to Mexico"?

"Play some golf"?

"Try our wines"?

"Visit the pyramids"?

Posted by: Monique at February 6, 2008 10:15 PM

"Shoot on sight"

Posted by: Greg at February 7, 2008 7:49 AM

Still no answers to the questions I asked in comment 3?

Posted by: smmtheory at February 7, 2008 6:02 PM
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