And it will be that like a hunted gazelle, or like sheep with none to gather them, they will each turn to his own people, and each one flee to his own land. Anyone who is found will be thrust through, and anyone who is captured will fall by the sword…
Improving Mexican economy draws undocumented immigrants home from California
By Stephen Magagnini
Published: Thursday, Jul. 28, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Jul. 28, 2011 – 11:16 am
There are fewer undocumented immigrants in California – and the Sacramento region – because many are now finding the American dream south of the border.
“It’s now easier to buy homes on credit, find a job and access higher education in Mexico,” Sacramento’s Mexican consul general, Carlos González Gutiérrez, said Wednesday. “We have become a middle-class country.”
Mexico’s unemployment rate is now 4.9 percent, compared with 9.4 percent joblessness in the United States.
An estimated 300,000 undocumented immigrants have left California since 2008, though the remaining 2.6 million still make up 7 percent of the population and 9 percent of the labor force, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
Among metropolitan areas with more than 1 million residents, Sacramento County ranks among the lowest, with an unauthorized population of 4.6 percent of its 1.4 million residents in 2008, according to Laura Hill, a demographer with the PPIC.
The Sacramento region, suffering from 12.3 percent unemployment and the construction bust, may have triggered a large exodus of undocumented immigrants, González Gutiérrez said.
The best-paid jobs for undocumented migrants are in the building industry, “and because of the severe crisis in the construction business here, their first response has been to move into the service industry,” González Gutiérrez said. “But that has its limits. Then, they move to other areas in the U.S. to find better jobs – or back to Mexico.”
Hill said it’s hard to know whether the benefit of having fewer undocumented migrants outweighs the cost to employers and taxpayers.
California may have to provide less free education to the children of undocumented immigrants and less emergency medical care, she said, but it will also get less tax revenue.
In 2008, at least 836,100 undocumented immigrants filed U.S. tax returns in California using individual tax identification numbers known as ITINS, said Hill, who conducted the tax survey.
Based on those tax returns, the study found there were 65,000 undocumented immigrants in Sacramento County that year, far fewer than in many other big counties.
Sacramento’s undocumented population ranked 10th in the state that year, behind Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Santa Clara, San Bernardino, Riverside, Alameda, Contra Costa and Ventura.
There were an estimated 12,000 undocumented immigrants in Yolo County; 9,000 in the Sutter-Yuba area; and 8,000 in Placer County.
An analysis of local ZIP codes showed that Sacramento (95815, 95823, 95824), West Sacramento (95605), Clarksburg (95612), Esparto (95627), Guinda (95637), Knights Landing (95645), Winters (95694) and Woodland (95776) each had an undocumented population of 10 percent to 15 percent.
Yolo County relies heavily on migrant workers to grow and harvest crops.
“People in construction are now turning to agriculture; it’s the start of the tomato season so the harvesters will be jump-started pretty soon,” said Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel, whose 55,000 residents are 48 percent Latino, some of them undocumented.
Some aren’t sticking around for the upcoming tomato harvest, said Sylvina Frausto, secretary of Holy Rosary Church in Woodland. “Some have a small parcel in Mexico. They own their own home there, so instead of renting here they go back to their small business there.”
Many raise animals, run grocery stores or sell fruits and goods on street corners.
“They’re going back home because they can’t get medical help or government assistance anymore,” Frausto said, “And when it’s getting so difficult for them to find a job without proper documentation, it’s pushing them away.”
Anita Barnes, director of La Familia Counseling Center on Franklin Boulevard in Sacramento, said she recently spoke to a high school graduate who had lost his job in a restaurant and was thinking of going back to Mexico.
“He came over with his mom, who was in the process of losing her restaurant job,” Barnes said. “It’s frightening, especially for the children. They feel this is their country, they don’t know anything else, and they find they can’t get driver’s licenses or jobs.”
As its economy rebounds, Mexico “is becoming a better option than it was in the past, but you still have to find a job and reconnect,” Barnes said.
While the weakened U.S. economy, rising deportations and tougher border enforcement have led to fewer undocumented migrants, changes in Mexico are playing a significant role, González Gutiérrez said.
Mexico’s average standard of living – including health, education and per capita income – is now higher than those in Russia, China and India, according to the United Nations.
Mexico’s growing middle class “reduces the appetites to come because there are simply many more options” at home, González Gutiérrez said. “Most people who decided to migrate already have a job in Mexico and tend to be the most ambitious and attracted to the income gap between the U.S. and Mexico.”
Mexico’s economy is growing at 4 percent to 5 percent, benefiting from low inflation, exports and a strong banking system, the consul said.
Mexico’s birthrate is also declining sharply. “As a natural consequence of us transforming from a rural to an urban society, we are running out of Mexicans to export,” González Gutiérrez said. “Our society’s growing at a rate of 2.1 children per woman – in the 1970s it was more than five.”
Once the U.S. economy recovers, the flow of migrants moving north “may go up again, although most likely they will not reach the peak levels we saw in the first half of the decade,” González Gutiérrez said.
Update… can’t steal an American’s job when there are no jobs…
Lack of work in U.S. cuts migration from Mexico
By Ken Ellingwood Los Angeles Times Originally published November 23, 2011 at 8:12 PM | Page modified November 23, 2011 at 9:08 PM
Data from both sides of the border suggest illegal immigration from Mexico is in fast retreat, as U.S. job shortages, tighter border enforcement and criminal gangs on the Mexican side dissuade many from making the trip.
MEXICO CITY — North of the U.S.-Mexico border, Republican presidential candidates are talking tough on illegal immigration, with one proposing — perhaps in jest — an electrified fence to deter migrants.
But data from both sides of the border suggest illegal immigration from Mexico already is in fast retreat, as U.S. job shortages, tighter border enforcement and the presence of criminal gangs on the Mexican side dissuade many from making the trip.
Mexican census figures show fewer Mexicans are setting out and many are returning — leaving net migration at close to zero, Mexican officials say. Arrests by the U.S. Border Patrol along the southwestern frontier, a common gauge of how many people try to cross without papers, tumbled to 304,755 during the 11 months ending in August, extending a nearly steady drop since a peak of 1.6 million in 2000.
The scale of the fall has prompted some to suggest we may be seeing the end of a decades-long migration boom, even as others argue it’s only a momentary drop.
“Our country is not experiencing the population loss due to migration that was seen for nearly 50 years,” René Zenteno, a deputy interior secretary for migration matters, has said.
Douglas Massey, an immigration scholar at Princeton University, said surveys of residents in Mexican migrant towns he has studied for years found that the number of people making their first trip north had dwindled to near zero.
“We are at a new point in the history of migration between Mexico and the United States,” Massey said in a Mexico City news conference in August.
Experts in Mexico say the trend primarily is economic. Long-standing, back-and-forth migration has been thrown off as the U.S. downturn dried up jobs — in construction and restaurants, for example — that once drew legions of Mexican workers.
About 12.5 million Mexican immigrants live in the United States, slightly more than half without papers, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
These days, Mexicans in the United States have discouraging words for loved ones about prospects for work up north. U.S. contractors who used to recruit in Mexico likewise have little to offer.
“What stimulates migration is the need for workers,” said Genoveva Roldán, a scholar at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. “Right now, the migrant networks are functioning to say, ‘Don’t come — there’s no work.’ ”
Juan Carlos Calleros, a researcher in Mexico’s National Migration Institute, said the agency’s surveys find a large share of Mexican migrants coming home on their own or sent back by the Border Patrol had spent only a month or two on U.S. soil and returned because they lacked work.
Alongside the bleak jobs picture is a trek that has grown riskier and expensive because of stepped-up enforcement on the U.S. side, a crackdown that at the same time has prompted many migrants to stay in the United States rather than try to cross back and forth. Migrants also cite an increasingly hostile political climate north of the border, as expressed in state laws targeting illegal immigrants.
“It keeps getting harder and harder,” said Joel Buzo, 35, who returned to the central state of Guanajuato after a three-month search turned up only irregular, poorly paid work tearing up old railroad tracks in Utah. He lasted six more months before giving up.
Buzo, a musician, said it’s easier to get by in Mexico, even though jobs are also scarce. He has no plans to travel north again.
“What’s happening up there is happening here,” he said by telephone from the migrant-heavy town of Romita. “But it’s worse there.”
In Guanajuato, long one of the country’s biggest migrant-sending states, thousands of Mexicans have come back, but “it hasn’t been a massive return,” said Susana Guerra, who heads the state’s migrant-affairs office. She calls the decline in northward migration a “spasm” — not a lasting reality.
Safety in northern Mexico also has become a growing worry for would-be migrants.
Nearly 200 people, many of them U.S.-bound Mexican migrants, were killed in the northern state of Tamaulipas last spring after being seized from buses by gunmen believed tied to the Zetas drug gang. A year earlier, 72 migrants from Central and South America were massacred in the same area.
“It’s not worth it — for now,” Calleros said.
The real test of whether the migration drop represents a lasting change will come when the U.S. economy gets back on its feet.
Carlos Mireles, who lives in the town of Manuel Doblado, Guanajuato, said two nephews moved to Mexico City after they lost their restaurant jobs in Chicago and spent six months without work. But the young men, in their 20s, haven’t given up on life north of the border.
“Their idea is to go back to Chicago when things get better, because wages are so little here in Mexico,” Mireles said. “That’s why they want to return to the United States.”
Los Angeles Times reporter Cecilia Sanchez contributed to this report.
…from before the sword of the oppressor they will each turn back to his own people and they will each flee to his own land…