Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Expensive, Porous Fence

Last week the Government Accountability Office, which watches over the funding that Congress has voted, gave a scathing report on the "virtual" fence being built on the Southwestern border. It's way behind schedule, costs a lot more than expected, and doesn't do much good. Already determined immigrants have devise ways -- some unquestionably dangerous -- to get around it. As the New York Times editorializes fences are no solution to immigration problem, rather we need comprehensive immigration reform.

Evidence has been growing that the immigrant population, especially of undocumented, has been declining. Most experts attribute it to the recession. Fewer are trying to cross the borders and a few, though not all that many, are returning home. The Los Angeles Times reviewed the findings of the Census Bureau's annual American Community Survey and suggests the biggest impact of the decline has been in California -- as well as Arizona and Florida. These states have long been identified with large immigrant, mostly Hispanic, populations. Texas -- thanks to a healthy economy -- is still attracting immigrants, as well as the ancient doorway to the immigrant -- New York. The Times quotes experts on immigration flows to the effect that the current patterns are not entirely new because of the recession. Already in the 90s, immigrants -- especially the undocumented -- have shunned the ethnic enclaves East LA or South Phoenix for the more exotic climes of Minnesota and Iowa or Georgia and North Carolina. Georgia in fact continues to attract immigrants. In part the shift that started before the recession was due to aggressive enforcement of immigration law. But over the last year it has been in Connecticut, North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa that we witnessed the most aggressive factory raids. Immigrant have remained faithful to the new pattern, simply because -- even in hard times -- that's where the jobs are.

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