Thursday, December 30, 2010

Illegal immigration flow may be reversing

From Lee Davidson of The Salt Lake Tribune on Dec. 29:
“Vickie” says she’s tired of living in fear: the fear of immigration officials, Utah politicians targeting people like her and the bad economy here.

So after 18 years in Utah, working without documents, she says her family will probably return to Mexico.

She bursts into tears as she says it, burying her face in her hands. “My 16-year-old daughter [a U.S. citizen] doesn’t want to go. She was born here, and this is all she knows. She has never been to Mexico. But how could I leave her here alone? She’s too young.”

Another older daughter, “Lizzie,” who has a visa to be here legally, says she may also need to return if her parents go. She is facing a divorce and has two young children. Her extended family provides a home, child care and emotional support, which would disappear. And if she stays without them, she says, “It would tear our family apart.”

Vickie and Lizzie (whom The Salt Lake Tribune agreed not to identify by their real names because they feared repercussions) are examples — and explanations — of a recent trend shown by some studies: More undocumented immigrants may now be going home than are coming to Utah. It is happening at the same time some of the state’s politicians are pushing tougher laws claiming that a record flood of illegal immigration has reached crisis proportions and must be stopped.

An annual study this year by the Pew Hispanic Center, using U.S. census data, estimated that the number of immigrants in Utah illegally dropped by 10,000 between 2008 and 2009 — from 120,000 overall to 110,000. But study authors caution those numbers are within statistical margins of error, so it is possible that no decrease occurred — but numbers suggest illegal immigration is at least slowing to a trickle.


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