Far fewer unauthorized immigrants living in Arizona cities than 10 years ago, Pew says

Interesting mix of factors, ranging from increased enforcement to improved economic circumstances in Mexico:

There are a lot fewer unauthorized immigrants living in key Arizona metropolitan areas than a decade ago, the Pew Research Center says.

New figures Monday show there were about 210,000 undocumented immigrants in the Phoenix metro area in 2016, the most recent estimates available. That compares with about 400,000 in 2007, though there is a margin for error.

Only the New York City and Los Angeles areas had a larger drop, though both decreases were smaller on a percentage basis.

It’s not just Phoenix reflecting the decline.

Tucson’s unauthorized immigrant population dropped about 25 percent, from 50,000 to 35,000.

The latest estimate for Yuma is 15,000 immigrants without documents, which may be a drop of about 5,000, though with the smaller numbers Pew reports the margin of error makes the accuracy less clear.

For the Prescott area, Pew reports that the number of unauthorized immigrants in 2016 may have been anywhere from 25 to 50 percent smaller than the 10,000 living there in 2007.

Pew researcher Jeff Passel said the reductions may partly be due to the change in immigration patterns from other countries.

“We know there’s been a significant drop in Mexican unauthorized immigrants over that decade,” he said.

“And Arizona’s unauthorized immigrant population is largely Mexicans,” Passel continued. “The fact that many fewer Mexican immigrants are coming into the country and more are leaving than coming is a big factor behind this.”

Some research suggests policies adopted by Arizona lawmakers also may be a factor, Passel said.

For example, Pia Orrenius, vice president and senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas, looked at the requirement for employers here to use the federal E-Verify system.

That requirement is part of a 2007 law, formally known as the Legal Arizona Worker Act.

It allows a state judge to suspend all business licenses of any firm found guilty of knowingly hiring those not in the country legally. A second offense within three years puts the company out of business.

Another part of that law spells out that employers must use the online system to determine whether new employees are legally entitled to work here.

There is no penalty for failing to make the checks. But those who use E-Verify have a legal defense against charges they knowingly broke the law.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision in 2011, upheld the Arizona law, rejecting arguments by the business community, Hispanic-rights organizations and the Obama administration that it infringes on the exclusive right of the federal government to regulate immigration.

“The work that we found on E-Verify found that it actually has a significant impact on the wages of likely undocumented workers,” Orrenius said, with a specific finding of an 8 percent reduction in hourly wages.

But Orrenius said there also are larger issues at work, including an improved economy in Mexico and the changing demographics there.

Orrenius said the age of most migrants for economic purposes is between 18 and 24. As the number of people in that age segment decreases, she said, there are fewer to emigrate to the United States.

She had no specific studies on the effect that Arizona’s SB 1070 had in reducing the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the state.

That 2010 law contained several provisions aimed at illegal immigration. While some were struck down by federal courts, the U.S. Supreme Court did give the go-ahead for Arizona to require that police ask the immigration status of those they stop if they have reason to suspect they are undocumented.

The Pew study also finds mixed results across the country.

Overall, the report says the unauthorized population in the United States dropped from about 12.2 million in 2007 to 10.7 million in 2016.

While most of the metro areas showed a decline or no significant change, there were a few areas with increases.

Most notable is the Washington, D.C., area where the number of people not in this country legally is estimated to have increased by 100,000 between 2007 and 2016, to 425,000.

Source: Far fewer unauthorized immigrants living in Arizona cities than 10 years ago, Pew says

Immigrant-friendly policies make most whites feel welcomed, too

Interesting study comparing attitudes in New Mexico and Arizona:

Immigration policy in the US has grown increasingly contentious, seemingly pitting different communities and ideologies against each other. But a new study suggests that a large majority of Americans appreciate a welcoming policy toward immigrants. Only a specific minority—white conservatives—generally feels otherwise. And the effect isn’t limited to policy, as it influenced whether citizens felt welcome in the place that they lived.

The research, performed by a collaboration of US-based researchers, focused on New Mexico and Arizona. These states have similar demographics but radically different policies toward immigrants. Arizona has state policies that encourage police to check the immigration status of people they encounter; controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio ended up in trouble with the court system in part due to how aggressively he pursued this program. New Mexico, by contrast, will provide state IDs and tuition benefits to immigrants regardless of their documentation status.

The researchers reasoned that these states would provide a reasonable test as to how immigration policies align with the feelings of the public. So they surveyed nearly 2,000 residents of the two states, including immigrants, naturalized US citizens, and people born in the US, focusing on the states’ Caucasian and Hispanic populations.

The work used a phone-based survey that suggested that the state’s representatives were considering new immigration-focused legislation. Participants were randomly given a description of one of two types of legislation, either pro- or anti-immigrant (examples included English-only laws and bilingual state documents). Those surveyed were asked how they felt about the proposed legislation but were also asked questions about how they felt about the state—whether they felt at home there and whether they intended to move elsewhere. The intent was to get at whether immigration-focused policies in a state made people feel more or less at home.

Perhaps the clearest and most striking result is that the state where the participant resided didn’t have a significant effect on the main findings. That’s quite striking, given that state policy should in theory represent the desires of its citizens.

Beyond that, people responded to the proposals as you’d expect. Foreign-born Hispanics, regardless of whether they were liberal or conservative, viewed the immigrant-hostile legislation negatively and felt positively about the immigrant-friendly proposal. Hispanics born in the US were similar, but ideology seemed to creep in as an influence: conservatives were more likely to view the hostile legislation favorably. Liberal whites also strongly favored the pro-immigration proposal, while moderates were nearly evenly split. White conservatives, however, were the only group that on average favored an anti-immigration measure.

A nearly identical pattern emerged when the researchers analyzed how the proposals influenced people’s sense of being welcomed into the community. Foreign-born Hispanics uniformly felt more welcome when primed with immigrant-friendly proposals, as did liberal and moderate native-born Hispanics and non-Hispanic liberals. Conservative native-born Hispanics and moderate whites had a mixed response, while conservative Caucasians were the only group that clearly felt less welcome in their community when told that the legislature was considering a pro-immigration policy.

It’s not much of a surprise to see confirmation that policies that are hostile to a group make members of that group feel less welcome in their communities. In this case, the non-immigrant Hispanics surveyed shared a geographic origin and likely some culture with the people targeted, so it’s not much of a surprise that they felt less welcome as well. It would be useful to perform a similar experiment in New York City or Northern California, where there are more diverse groups of immigrants, to see if these feelings crossed cultural boundaries.

But there was at least one case in this study where the feelings clearly did cross cultural boundaries: liberal Caucasians felt more at home in their communities if they felt the communities welcomed immigrants.

White conservatives, however, were unique in this study in that they were the only group who felt that an immigrant-friendly community was hostile to them. While that might not be a problem in the more homogeneous areas of the country, this group is a shrinking minority—which may both explain the response and suggest that it will become an increasing issue going forward. Finding a way to moderate this sense of hostility may thus be essential to keeping US society functional in the face of demographic change.

Source: Immigrant-friendly policies make most whites feel welcomed, too