September 28, 2007
It's Good News Friday!
And you thought I was a just a black-hearted pessimist, an unrelenting cynic -- and maybe you were right.
But then a story like this comes along and restores my faith in the possibility of right vanquishing wrong.
Illegal immigrants living in states and cities that have adopted strict immigration policies are packing up and moving back to their home countries or to neighboring states.
The exodus has been fueled by a wave of laws targeting illegal immigrants in Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia and elsewhere. Many were passed after congressional efforts to overhaul the immigration system collapsed in June.
Immigrants say the laws have raised fears of workplace raids and deportation.
"People now are really frightened and scared because they don't know what's going to happen," says Juliana Stout, an editor at the newspaper El Nacional de Oklahoma. "They're selling houses. They're leaving the country."
Hey, wait a minute! All those supporters of the Congressional Illegal Immigration Amnesty Act have hammered those opposed to the amnesty with -- among charges of racism -- the charge that it's impossible to deport 12 million people.
They've ridiculed the answer that many -- if not most -- of the foreign nationals in the U.S. illegally will self-deport, as soon as jobs start drying up and the threat of enforcement becomes real.
And what do you know, seems like that's just what's happening.
Supporters of the laws cheer the departure of illegal immigrants and say the laws are working as intended.
Oklahoma state Rep. Randy Terrill, Republican author of his state's law, says the flight proves it is working. "That was the intended purpose," he says. "It would be just fine with me if we exported all illegal aliens to the surrounding states."
Most provisions of an Oklahoma law take effect in November. Among other things, it cuts off benefits such as welfare and college financial aid.
In Tulsa, schools have seen a drop in Hispanic enrollment.
About 60% of Kendall-Whittier Elementary School's 950 students are Hispanic, Principal Judy Feary says. Since an enrollment report Sept. 10, she says, 14 have left. Four more said last week that they would move.
Three weeks ago, one couple dropped their three children at school, then returned after lunch with their belongings packed in an SUV and trailer. Feary says they took the kids and said they were moving back to Mexico. "They were afraid and cited the immigration law," she says.
Marshall Elementary, where enrollment is 60% Hispanic, has lost about 10 students this year to the immigration law, Principal Kayla Robinson says. Most moved to Texas. "These are families that have been here for a long time," she says.
Sounds like these schools are enjoying a lower student-to-teacher ratio, which as I recall is generally a good thing, much sought after by edjimication "experts" and teachers' unions.
Illegal immigrants also are leaving Georgia, where a law requires companies on government contracts with at least 500 employees to check new hires against a federal database to make sure they are legally authorized to work.
Real estate agent Guadalupe Sosa in Avondale, Ariz., outside Phoenix, says migration from the state began about three months ago, shortly after Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, signed a law that will take effect in January. Employers who hire illegal immigrants can lose their business licenses.
Of the 10 homes Sosa has on the market, half belong to families that plan to leave because of immigration tensions.
"They know they might be losing everything today or tomorrow," she says.
Maria Sanchez, 35, joined the migration with her sister and nephew, who are in the country legally. Sanchez was in the USA illegally, but she has gotten a temporary work permit.
The three lived in Aurora, Colo., when Sanchez was fired from her job as district manager of a fast-food chain after she couldn't provide a valid Social Security number.
You'd have to have a heart of stone to not crack a smile at that last sentence; the inference to be drawn is that she provided an invalid Social Security Number, a number not her own. In other words, she probably committed tax fraud and identity theft.
But not to worry, she just moved to a state where they don't care if you're here legally.
Colorado has approved several immigration measures. One gives employers 20 days to check and photocopy documents such as driver's licenses and Social Security cards, which new workers present to prove their legal status.
Because of the laws, Sanchez, her sister and nephew left five months ago. "I moved to Utah because they don't have the same laws here," she says.
State Sen. Dave Schultheis says he hasn't observed a major migration out of Colorado but has heard anecdotal reports that illegal immigrants are leaving. "It's absolutely a good thing," he says. "We want to make Colorado the least friendly state to people who are here illegally."
In Hazleton, Pa., families started moving away after the city passed an illegal-immigrant law last summer, says Rudy Espinal, head of the Hazleton Hispanic Business Association. The law would fine landlords who rented to illegal immigrants and suspend the business licenses of companies that hired them. A companion measure would require tenants to register with the city and pay $10 for a rental permit.
A federal judge ruled the measures unconstitutional in July, but that hasn't stopped people moving away, he says.
"People are still leaving," Espinal says. "Some people have told me that they're leaving because they don't want their kids to grow up in an environment like this."
Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta counters that some illegal immigrants who moved came back after the judge's decision, which the city is appealing. "I see a reversal," he says. "In a small city, it becomes obvious. … Schools are overcrowded and there are five-hour waits in the emergency room."
He says, "We don't want to chase immigrants away, just the illegal aliens who are causing many of the problem we are having."
See, I told you it's not all gloom and doom.
Posted by Mike Lief at September 28, 2007 08:03 AM
That is exxxxcelllllent news Mike. Salut, Au revoir, Auf Wiedersehen, Shalom, Aloha 'oe, Bye Now, and last but not least----Hasta la vista !
Posted by: Sal at September 28, 2007 08:55 AM
Hallelujah! Too bad it will most likely never happen in Mexifornia.
Posted by: April at September 28, 2007 11:19 AM