by Olivia Azevedo
A report by the nonpartisan research organization Pew Hispanic Centre has found that net migration flow from Mexico to the U.S. has stopped or may have reversed. Although around 1.4m Mexicans between 2005 and 2010 have tried to secure a piece of the American dream, it is thought that an equal or probably higher number left to return to their mother country.
It’s hard to pinpoint the major issue in the decline of the immigration flow from Mexico. The reasons for the standstill are varied: the slow economy that weakened U.S. job and housing constructing markets, an increase in border enforcement, more deportations (which not only sees an increase of people leaving the U.S. but also discourages more from trying to get in), lower birth-rate among Mexicans in the last decades, better living conditions in Mexico, etc.
The said report was made public in the same week that the Supreme Court started hearing arguments concerning the constitutionality of Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration, with the ruling expected in the summer which will have repercussions in other states. The bill passed in 2010 seeks to dissuade illegal immigration by making it a crime under state and federal law and encouraging and instructing authorities to be on the alert to illegal immigrants.
While American citizens wait for the disclosure of the verdict, American politicians hardly seem able to contain themselves from talking about the subject, with Democratic leaders in the Senate already planning to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision if the law is upheld.
Many worry that the Arizona bill will mean an escalation in persecution for people that fit the physical profile, even though the law expressly prohibits such discriminatory practices. Civil-liberties groups think that the only way to assert someone’s immigration status is through harassment which will give leave to fertile ground for discriminatory attitudes.
Some might argue that – for illegal immigration to be effectively tackled – some level of unsightly actions might have to occur in order to fulfill the goal, like subjecting citizens to unwarranted checks. The solicitor-general has already responded that he is not challenging the law on the grounds that it would discriminate against Latinos but that the law pre-empted the federal government’s power to set immigration policy. More arguments left and right will follow in the months ahead.
Meanwhile, the very thing that is setting a fire under Republicans and Democrats is the very same thing that according to the Pew Hispanic Centre seems to be dwindling, which begs the question: Is the immigration bogeyman a political fabrication?