A Downward Trend In Illegal Immigration?

Brent Finnegan -- May 3rd, 2010

While Arizona’s tough new immigration laws have been attracting much national attention lately, several recent articles and columns suggest that illegal immigration has been on the decline in recent years, due to more federal enforcement and a wounded U.S. economy.

Marisa Taylor reports for McClatchey Newspapers on several unauthorized immigrants living in Harrisonburg:

Maria, an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant in Harrisonburg . . . said she’s noticed that even the most undesirable jobs are hard to come by.

During the past five years, she documented her citizenship with a Puerto Rican’s social security card that she paid $1,500 to “borrow” for work. When she recently applied at a meat packing plant, however, the supervisor asked her many more questions than usual. (read the full story)

Taylor also produced a video interview with local business owner Richard Gardner about his experience with Ezequiel Gonzalez, an unauthorized immigrant working for Gardner’s company. Gonzalez was deported to Mexico, leaving his wife and children in Harrisonburg until they were able to find a way to leave the country to rejoin him.

The story touches on the effect a down economy and tougher enforcement has had on the local poultry industry:

Jose, an immigrant from El Salvador and a permanent resident, said his work line at a Cargill meat packing plant near Harrisonburg used to be 95 percent Hispanic and half of them were illegal. Then, the federal government raided his plant as part of an investigation of the hiring of illegal immigrants. Now, he said, about half are Hispanic, and none of them are undocumented.

The illegal workers have been replaced by refugees who have come in legally from countries such as Iraq and Russia. He’s spotted a growing number of native-born non-Hispanic whites during the day shift.

“There were once whole neighborhoods where illegal immigrants lived,” said Jose, who asked that his last name not be used for fear of losing his job. “Now, many of those houses are empty.”

Tags:

6 Responses to “A Downward Trend In Illegal Immigration?”

  1. Renee says:

    I did notice the other day when I drove by a poultry plants when the shifts were changing that there were a lot more white workers than I was accustomed to seeing.

  2. Phil says:

    There are at least 100 countries in the world with as much
    poverty as Mexico. It is good to see legal immigrants from
    other places like Iraq and Russia replacing the illegals.
    All illegals should be replaced by legal immigrants from
    other countries. Maxicans have an entitlement mentality
    the U.S. doesn’t need.

    • Samantha says:

      Actually, I think its many Americans who have an entitlement mentality and are lazy! That’s why many business owners prefer to hire immigrants, legal or illegal. They do work hard, generally and have a better work ethic. My problem is not with immigrants per se, it’s with illegal immigration. I just want a way to let those hardworking people who just want to pursue their dreams in while keeping out drug dealers and gangs. The other problem I have with people from Latin America isn’t their work ethic. It’s the way they act surprised and offended when they come into a business and find that no one on staff speaks Spanish. It does seem that the people from Russia, Iraq, etc. seem to make more of an effort to learn English. I also get annoyed when I see jobs advertised that I would be qualified for except “Bilingual Spanish-English required”. I mean, what country is this anyway? If I moved to Mexico (many American retirees are) I would not expect to walk into a business and have them speak English. I am sure there are Americans like that, but not me. If you are going to settle in a country, learn the language and don’t get all huffy when people don’t speak your language!

      • Sam Nickels says:

        I wish the solution was just leave the hard workers alone and kick out the gang members. We’ve done that for years, sending young felons back to El Salvador, essentially dumping 10s of 1000s of them into that society of a mere 6 million people. They now suffer horrid rates of crime, gang extortion, gang wars, etc. If they are here with their families, whether they are good or bad they are part of us, of America, and we need to deal with it here, not dump the bad ones back and keep just the “good” ones. We also end up deporting minor crime commiters even when they have established a family here and are working to support them. So now we’re tearing apart families. The short term solution is comprehensive immigration reform. The long term solution is an economic system, national and global, that seek to help small farmers stay on their land around the world, that sets up truly fair trade (instead of US farmers dumping subsidized grain on the world market, depressing prices, driving small poor country farmers off their land and into cities and across borders just to feed their families). Once we care more about each other than about our country, or our economic system, once we start putting the poor and middle class ABOVE the wealthy and Wall Street, then we have a chance to diminish some of these problems. SamuelNickels@yahoo.com

        • Samantha says:

          Well, I do agree that the real long term solution is to encourage some way to let people make a living in their own country. They would probably prefer that, too. The solution to third world poverty is not for them all to move to Harrisonburg and work in the poultry plants! However, I don’t agree that if people are here illegally they are part of us, good or bad. They are breaking the law by being here and if they break further laws even minor ones, we are not tearing apart their family, they are. Their family is free to follow them back to their country. Not to mention that anyone stupid enough to be here illegally and then breaks another law deserves to be deported anyway. The duty of the government is to defend and protect its citizens and we cannot suffer ourselves to be a staging ground for MS-13 and their crimes. I personally do not want to be in danger of murder, rape or assault because well meaning people think we have to be a haven for bad guys because their countries are too small to handle them. The government’s first responsibility is to the safety and welfare of its own citizens.

          A country that cannot control its borders isn’t really a country anymore.

          I agree about the immigration reform but don’t think it will happen anytime soon as it’s a hot potato and there are pro- and anti-amnesty people in both parties and no matter what politicians do they are going to offend someone.

          I think before we can fix immigration we need to stop the wave of people that is bankrupting our hospitals and schools and turning Arizona into a free-fire zone. Then we can deal with the people that are here. As to what should be done about them, I really don’t know. I know it is very difficult for even American citizens and legally resident aliens to get their spouses here many times and that needs to end. Also a guest worker program might be good. There are people who don’t want to stay in the US forever and ever, they just want to make a living and then return home. I also don’t think we can deport everyone who is here illegally but we need some sort of fine or something because it’s not fair or equitable to the people who went to all the hassle and trouble to immigrate the legal way. I think the Dream Act is a good idea because someone brought here by their parents as a minor is not responsible for their being here illegally and they should have some way to rectify their situation. Then finally, I don’t think we can stop illegal immigration from the “supply” side, but maybe from the “demand” side. When some yuppie gets fined or jailed because he knowingly hired an illegal pool boy or gardener, people might take notice!

  3. Emmy says:

    It honestly makes a lot more sense to do away with English and replace it with another language. English is not logical and is one of the hardest languages to learn (and I’m currently and English major in college).

    As for the rest of it, well I really have no issue with illegal immigrants. It’s not like we’ll ever change our buying habits to make them unnecessary. They’re a cheap and quiet labor force that keeps this country running. If you don’t like that they’re hear then you need to vote with your wallet. Don’t support companies that hire them, and don’t let your politicians let those companies off the hook.

Reader Tweets

Latest Flickr photos in the hburgnews Flickr pool
Announcements & Press Releases
  • Friendly City Grand Opening Set for July 9

    Friendly City Food Co-Op, Harrisonburg’s consumer-owned grocery, invites the community to come see its new destination for natural, organic and locally-produced products at the store’s grand opening 11 a.m.-5 p.m. July 9 at 150 East Wolfe Street.

  • Friendly City Becomes Member of National Cooperative Grocers Association

    HARRISONBURG, VA — Friendly City Food Co-op, slated to open this month in Harrisonburg, Va., has become the newest member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative serving 120 consumer-owned food co-ops nationwide.

  • Harrisonburg Recognized as a Bike Friendly Community

    May 2: Harrisonburg was honored when the League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designations over the weekend to kick off May as National Bike Month.