Self deportation is working
Much of the evidence provided in the story is anecdotal. However, it does represent a trend which suggest my lonely voice on the effect of self deportation is beginning to be seen in the reality. One of the arguments used by the critics of immigration enforcement is that you can't deport everyone in the country illegally. What we are finding is what I suggested. If you enforce the law they will leave on their own. It is better for them and us that they leave that way.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."
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.
There's no hard demographic data on the trend, partly because it's hard to track people who are in the USA illegally. But school officials, real estate agents and church leaders say the movement is unmistakable.
In Tulsa, schools have seen a drop in Hispanic enrollment.
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.
Mario Reyes, senior minister at the Tabernacle of Atlanta, says his church lost about 10 families this summer. His daughter, a real estate agent, is helping them sell their homes.
Churches across the city report similar losses, says Antonio Mansogo, a board member of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders.
"There's tension because you don't know when immigration (agents) might show up, and a lot of people don't want to take those chances," he says.
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.
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.