Developing strategies to end hunger

12 posts from May 2010

The Right Kind of Immigrant

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month—a celebration of Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States. According to analyses conducted by Bread for the World Institute, Asian Americans fare better than the general population on a wide variety of socioeconomic indicators including lower rates of poverty and hunger. While Asian Americans are today generally economically secure, the country’s attitude toward Asian Americans and Asian immigration hasn’t always been so placid.

By the 1880s American hostility toward Chinese immigrants was peaking. On one day in October 1871 in Los Angeles at least 20 Chinese were lynched and shot. In September 1885 in Rock Springs, Wyoming, angry white immigrant railroad workers attacked Chinese laborers killing 28 and expelling hundreds of Chinese workers.

These were two of hundreds of incidents of mob violence against Chinese immigrants in the American West during the late 19th century. The level of violence against the Chinese was so widespread that some scholars equate it to ethnic cleansing.

The California Gold Rush brought tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants in the mid 18th century and they were subsequently recruited into the country to help build the intercontinental railroads. Welcomed at first, the hostility against the Chinese was led by white laborers – many of them immigrants – who believed that the low-paid Asian workers were taking away American jobs.

In an American first, the popular anti-Chinese sentiment was made the law of the land by Congress in 1882 when it codified the country’s anti-Asian hostility through the Chinese Exclusion Act.

The Act was the first time the United States blocked immigration by a specific ethnic group. It banned Chinese laborers from entering the country and prevented the naturalization of Chinese immigrants already in the country. The law was extremely effective. Chinese immigration dropped from 40,000 in 1881 to 23.

The Exclusion Act was initially intended to last for 10 years but it was extended until 1943 when it was finally repealed during World War II because the United States and China were allied against the Japanese Empire.

But in the 19th century, as today, the forces of global economics evaded ham-handed immigration enforcement efforts. With Asian immigration effectively ended, expanding Southwest businesses looked for labor alternatives. Private labor contractors hired by Western employers found a solution: Mexico.

The labor contractors rode the newly constructed rail lines into Mexico’s northwestern population centers, where poor and uneducated peasants were enticed with tales of generous wages to travel to the United States to work in mines, railroads, construction, and agriculture.

By the late 19th century the immigration corridor between American employers and Mexican laborers was established. World War I would increase the need for Mexican labor and subsequent events would further escalate and systematize the link, making it a permanent feature of the North American economy.

Asian immigration didn’t grow again significantly until 1965 when, as part of the Civil Rights Movement, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act which eliminated the country’s traditional immigration quotas designed to discourage immigration from Asia (and other parts of the world.)

The law led to increases in Asian and (particularly) Latin American immigration while European immigration diminished. Today Latin America and South and East Asia are the source of 77% of all foreign-born individuals in the United States.

But while Asian immigrant sending nations like China, Korea, and Japan, raised their standards of living and education levels during the last half of the 20th century, Latin American socioeconomic progress was more modest; and poverty, inequality, and low levels of formal education remained widespread.

Today, Asian immigrants to the United States are seen as models for immigrant integration, a sea change from the “Yellow Peril” of the 19th century.

Asians typically enter the United States through legal channels and therefore are typically not included in the contemporary national debate on immigration. Only 9% of all unauthorized immigrants are from Asia.

Contemporary Asian immigrants are also much more educated and skilled than their 19th century countrymen. Asian-origin immigrants are overrepresented among highly-skilled immigrants, defined as those possessing at least a bachelor’s degree. Although Asian immigrants comprised 27% of all adult immigrants in the United States labor force in 2006, they were almost 50% of all highly skilled immigrants.

The result is a sub-section of the population that is more prosperous, healthier, and more educated than the nation as a whole. In 2008, the median income in Asian American households was $65,637, higher than the overall household median income in the United States of $50,303.

Education levels – which are crucial to economic success – are also much higher among Asian Americans. Nearly one in five Asian American adults has a graduate degree. Nationwide about one in 10 Americans have a graduate degree.

Although there are many reasons for Asian immigrant and Asian American prosperity, and there are important socioeconomic differences among various Asian American national-origin groups; high levels of education in Asian sending countries and the largely legal channels of Asian immigration are contributing factors to the community’s success.

But just as America shifted from Asia toward Mexico to fill its low-skill labor needs in the late 19th century; in the early late 20th century hostility toward low-skilled immigrants likewise shifted from Asians toward those originating from Mexico and Latin America.

The Drug Wars

Mexican President Felipe Calderón addressed Congress last week where two of the primary issues – as always in United States-Mexico relations – were drug trafficking and immigration.

The drug trade isn’t something we typically look at Bread for the World Institute and it is a separate issue than immigration. But both migration and the drug trade share some of the same causes: poverty and underdevelopment. The United States has addressed both issues primarily with an enforcement-centric approach, ignoring or – at best – treating socio-economic factors as secondary causes.

As I’ve written in previous posts, for more than 20 years the United States promoted an enforcement-only policy to unauthorized immigration that not only failed to slow immigration, but inadvertently encouraged immigrants to settle in the United States. The United States’ support of President Calderón’s policy against Mexican drug trafficking matches its shortsighted approach to immigration policy. Unfortunately, the results have also been similar.

Calderón launched his war against the cartels in December 2006, during which more than 20,000 Mexicans have been killed. Although the cartels have been damaged, there has been no permanent progress against the traffickers. And in spite of Mexico increasing its security spending from $2 billion in 2006 to $9.3 billion in 2009, there is broad consensus that the war stirred up a hornets’ nest that Mexico has not been able to contain. The enforcement-only policy has – so far – failed.

No one would argue that the cartels are nice guys. Their impact on Mexican society is extraordinarily toxic and enforcement deserves a central place in the campaign against the violence and corruption surrounding the drug trade. But Mexico and the United States must address the poverty and underdevelopment that feeds the Mexican drug trade in particular and crime and impunity throughout Latin America in general.

Thus far, the United States has facilitated Mexico’s enforcement-only approach through its pledge of $1.4 billion in military aid and training assistance to Mexico, known as the Merida Initiative. One of the largest foreign aid packages to Latin America in decades, it has focused on providing Mexico with Black Hawk and Bell 412 helicopters, CASA CN-235 surveillance planes, and police training and inspection equipment.

But over the long term, the war can’t be won only through enforcement. Almost half of Mexico’s population lives in poverty and the profits from drug trafficking are estimated up to about $40 billion annually. With so many people – particularly young people – with limited or no opportunity, and with so much money generated through drug trafficking, the cartels are assured an almost endless supply of new recruits and opportunities to corrupt.

Now, finally, things may be changing.

After more than three years of combat and limited progress, Mexico and the United States have recognized the need to alter their strategy to take into account the social factors that facilitate the Mexican drug trade. This new thinking includes more support for youth programs, institution building, and judicial reform.

The changes would be a step toward a more comprehensive approach to fighting criminality and corruption in Mexico.

But if both countries want to successfully confront drug trafficking over the long-term, they will need to devote more funding and energy toward economic development and job creation in Latin America.

Providing Mexicans with good jobs will reduce the lure of the drug trade and economic development would reduce the corruption and impunity that ensure the cartels’ success.

Mad as Hell About Hunger?

Of course you are. Why else would you be reading this blog? We’re all mad as hell about hunger here, as well we should be.

There are lots of things we can do to channel this outrage in productive ways. All of these are good, as long as they don't get violent, but some are really good and those are the ones we need to be sharing.

Here’s one I want to tell you about.

The 1 Billion Hungry campaign, recently launched by a number of groups we probably all know and support, wants to drop a petition of at least 1 million signatures in the laps of government leaders when they meet at the U.N. headquarters in New York in September. Among the petition's organizers are the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Food Program, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the International Alliance Against Hunger, Biodiversity International, and several others. You can view them all here.

These groups get themselves heard. Hence you get heard--and with the people who have the most power to do something. I hope you’ll sign this petition, and then pass it on to everyone you know.


Niger: Is It Famine Yet?

As Haiti headlines retreat from the front pages, another crisis is emerging: Niger. Because of crop and rain failure, famine looms on the horizon.

We have been here before. In 2005, Niger’s government avoided talk of famine, and international actors debated whether we were really seeing famine. This while malnourished children flooded feeding centers run by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and 2.5 million people faced starvation. Aid agencies scrambled and donor governments responded sluggishly to United Nations emergency appeals.

The early response was also marred by several missteps, such as the initial decision by Niger’s government and its aid partners to avoid food aid altogether and instead implement a subsidized food strategy that failed to reach enough people. This put the population further at risk. 

Food was not widely available in markets. Procuring food aid locally was not as viable in a region experiencing high food prices and low yields. A well-planned strategy for local procurement, coupled with emergency food aid, would have been more effective.  See Roger Thurow’s post for more on why we still need to purchase food aid locally—but better this time.

The good news is that we are now seeing a more coordinated response from humanitarian actors and the Nigerian government. There are more NGOs on the ground, which have been running programs since 2005, and Niger’s government is also playing a more active role. On March 11, the government officially announced critical food insecurity in the country, warning that the rate of severe food insecurity has tripled since last year.

But this crisis faces an uphill battle in getting adequate attention. With more than half the population needing food assistance, the U.N. appeal to address the 2010 crisis has only been 30 percent funded.

Shockingly, none of these funds have been targeted for nutrition, water, or sanitation, according to an IRIN report. More than 1.5 million children are at risk of becoming malnourished in the next 12 months if urgent action is not taken. Targeting the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable (pregnant women, infants, and young children) is critical.

In 2005, Niger’s food crisis competed with the tsunami in Southeast Asia for attention. This year, it is vying for the scarce public attention and resources that are focused on Haiti. But ultimately, the most significant factor contributing to this new crisis in Niger is the chronic poverty that leaves the population vulnerable and incapable of withstanding these shocks—and the failure, over the last four years, to invest in long-term development and agriculture to prevent another crisis of this scale.

Delitos e inmigrantes

Aunque puede ser un lamento trillado, lo cierto es que gran parte del debate sobre la inmigración está impulsado por la histeria. Existe gran exageración en la información difundida, la cual relega los hechos a un papel secundario, como mucho.

Como lo demuestra el reciente frenesí ocurrido en Arizona, una de las facetas más provocativas del debate sobre la inmigración es la criminalidad de los inmigrantes. Los inmigrantes—especialmente los mexicanos—se presentan como heraldos de las pandillas, las drogas y la violencia. Y una de las razones principales para el apoyo público para la ley SB 1070 de Arizona fue su preocupación por el elemento criminal que los inmigrantes supuestamente importan al estado del Gran Cañón.

Aunque tenemos una larga tradición de culpar a los inmigrantes por el crimen (y otros males sociales), los hechos demuestran que—en igualdad de condiciones—los inmigrantes no autorizados cometen delitos a un ritmo mucho menor que los nativos. De hecho, la inmigración disminuye los delitos violentos.

Por ejemplo, a la vez que la población inmigrante de los Estados Unidos aumentó durante la década del 90, los delitos violentos en todo el país disminuyeron, esto incluye las grandes ciudades como lo son Los Ángeles y Nueva York a través de las cuales los inmigrantes entran a los Estados Unidos.

A nivel nacional, tal vez la correlación entre la caída de las tasas de delincuencia y la oleada de inmigración más grande en la historia reciente, es la prueba más intuitiva que la gran mayoría de los inmigrantes no aspiran a ser líderes de carteles de drogas. Pero también existe una creciente evidencia empírica de la idea que una persona con estado de inmigrante no autorizado “tiene mayor probabilidad de envolverse en la violencia que personas que no lo son”.

Un estudio realizado en Chicago encontró que los inmigrantes de primera generación—la mayoría provenientes de México—están un 45 por ciento menos propensos a cometer actos de violencia que los estadounidenses de tercera generación. El estudio también reveló que: “Vivir en un vecindario donde hay una alta concentración de inmigrantes estaba directamente asociado con menor violencia (de nuevo, después de tomar en cuenta una serie de factores correlacionados, como la pobreza y el estado inmigrante de un individuo)”.

Como afirma el autor del estudio, Robert Sampson, sociólogo de la Universidad de Harvard: “En general, los inmigrantes parecen ser menos violentos que la gente nacida en los Estados Unidos, sobre todo cuando viven en vecindarios con un alto número de otros inmigrantes...Las ciudades con áreas de inmigración concentrada son algunos de los lugares más seguros que hay”. Incluso en Arizona, donde se levantan quejas en contra la inmigración, pero de hecho, la delincuencia ha disminuido en los últimos años, a pesar de que el flujo de inmigrantes a través del estado aumentara.

La mayoría de los científicos sociales afirman que la baja tasa de criminalidad desplegada por los inmigrantes se debe a la predisposición de las personas no autorizadas que optan por entrar en los Estados Unidos. Como regla general, son particularmente ambiciosos, altamente motivados para trabajar, se enfocan en ahorrar dinero para enviar a casa, y están interesados en no llamar la atención sobre sí mismos por temor a la deportación.

Entrar en conflicto con la ley no sólo pondría en peligro la única meta de los inmigrantes que es trabajar y ahorrar en los Estados Unidos. También podría perjudicar a los padres de los migrantes, hermanos, parejas, y niños que dependen de ellos para las remesas que mantienen a flote a muchas familias en México y América Central.

Crime and Immigrants

It may be a hackneyed lament, but it’s true: much of the debate regarding immigration is driven by hysteria. Hype dominates and facts are secondary, if they’re lucky.

As the recent Arizona frenzy demonstrates, one of the most provocative facets of the immigration debate is immigrant criminality. Immigrants – particularly Mexicans – are portrayed as harbingers of gangs, drugs, and violence. And one of the major reasons for the public support for Arizona SB 1070 was concern regarding the criminal element that immigrants allegedly imported to the Grand Canyon State.

Although we have a long tradition of blaming immigrants for crime (and other social ills), the facts show that – all else being equal – unauthorized immigrants commit crimes at rates far lower than natives. In fact, immigration lowers violent crime.

For example, as the immigrant population of the United States boomed during the 1990s, violent crime across the country plummeted, including in big-city immigrant gateways like Los Angeles and New York.

Perhaps the correlation of falling nationwide crime rates and the largest immigration surge in recent history is the most intuitive proof that the vast majority of immigrants don’t aspire to be drug cartel kingpins. But there is also growing empirical evidence for the notion that an individual’s status as an unauthorized immigrant is “a stronger indicator of a dispropensity to violence than any other factor.”

One study in Chicago found that first-generation immigrants – mostly from Mexico – were 45 percent less likely to commit violence than third-generation Americans. The study also found that “living in a neighborhood of concentrated immigration was directly associated with lower violence (again, after taking into account a host of correlated factors, including poverty and an individual’s immigrant status).”

As the author of the study, Harvard University Sociologist Robert Sampson states, “immigrants appear in general to be less violent than people born in America, particularly when they live in neighborhoods with high numbers of other immigrants…. Cities of concentrated immigration are some of the safest places around.” Even in Arizona, where complaints of immigration-related violence fueled the passage of SB 1070, crime has actually gone down in recent years as immigration flows through the state increased.  

Most social scientists claim that immigrants’ low crime rate is due to the predisposition of those unauthorized persons that choose to enter the United States. As a general rule, they are particularly ambitious, highly motivated to work, focused on saving money to send home, and interested in not calling attention to themselves for fear of deportation.

Getting in trouble with the law would not only jeopardize immigrants’ single-minded focus on working and saving in the United States. It also would hurt migrants’ parents, siblings, partners, and children who depend on them for the remittances that keep many families afloat in Mexico and Central America.

Financial Reform is Anti-Hunger Policy

Remember the hunger crisis of 2008, when food-price spikes drove an additional 130 million people into hunger. At Bread for the World Institute, we talked a lot about what was at the bottom of this in our 2009 hunger report: rising gas prices, droughts, lack of investments in agriculture, better diets in some parts of the developing world, and a surge of investment in biofuels.

One thing we didn’t talk about in this report, but later proved to be a crucial factor was derivatives trading. As Robert Reich explains in his Salon column today, “derivatives are bets on whether the price of certain assets will rise or fall, bets thereby "derived" from asset prices.”

In 2008, those assets included fuel and farm commodities. Basically, the same reckless speculation in the housing markets occurred in these markets. In fact, once the housing market went bust in 2006, Wall Street investors went looking for the next best bet, and farm commodities were part of their rampaging appetite.  Food First has a good blog post from a couple of days ago on this, and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) out of University of Minnesota has also been writing about this for some time.

If you’re following the financial reform debate, you probably know that Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas has proposed putting new restrictions on derivatives trading. The Lincoln provision doesn’t eliminate the possibility of 2008-like price spikes happening again, but it does force large Wall Street investment firms from being able to gamble as recklessly as before.

Currently, when Wall Street gambles on derivatives, they're doing it with tax-payer guaranteed bailouts if the bets go bust. We bailed them out after they melted down the world economy, forced millions of people into unemployment and poverty, and drove 130 million people in the developing world into hunger. Bailing them out adds insult to injury.

Lincoln’s derivatives provision currently undoes some of the deregulation of the 1990s, specifically the abolition of the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated boring old banking from the kind of casino capitalism practiced by large financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, CitiBank and Lehman Brothers. Lincoln’s provision wouldn’t restore Glass Steagall, but it would force the big Wall Street firms to give up derivatives trading if they wanted government to insure their bets. 

During the 2008 farm bill negotiations, Senator Lincoln was unbending in her support for subsidies to US farmers, something Bread for the World fought hard to reform. I don’t know where the senator’s mojo on derivatives is coming from—but who really cares? She deserves all our support on this one.

The First 1,000 Days - Remember This, Please

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton gave a powerful speech yesterday at CARE’s annual national conference in Washington, DC. The whole speech was great, but I was especially taken by her remarks on the importance of nutrition and how this is a focus of the Obama administration’s new global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future. “If you want to know how stable a country is, don’t count the number of advanced weapons, count the number of malnourished children,” said Clinton, followed by a roar of applause. I applauded too, and I wasn’t in the room.

“Now, I could discuss many issues with you today that showcase [our] new approach to development. But I’m going to focus on one that holds a special urgency and does represent a new strategy that we are employing; namely, nutrition.

“Few issues provide a more direct, affordable, and effective way to save and improve lives. But as experts on nutrition will attest, it has long been overlooked by a global community focused on other priorities, because there are so many priorities that capture our hearts, that really speak to us. As governments and organizations search for strategic interventions in the fight against poverty, places where our money and our effort can make the biggest and most lasting differences, nutrition represents a ripe opportunity and one that can be addressed from many different angles.”

Clinton described the first two years of life, that critical window of development when nutrition is preeminent, as “the first 1,000 days.” I thought what a great way to say it.  Among the wonks in Washington (like myself, I guess), “0-2” is practically code, but I’ve never thought it had the potential to resonate beyond our own community—and, no big surprise, it hasn’t. I’m not going to take a poll, but I think "the first 1,000 days" is a much catchier way to make the public aware of how important nutrition is to development.

As the editor of the Institute’s annual Hunger Report, maybe I’m more sensitive to how I communicate to a broader audience and how I engage them in the issues we’re focused on in the report. For anyone who wants a lesson in how to communicate well, again I highly recommend reading Clinton’s speech yesterday, and not just for her remarks on nutrition.

Bangladesh: Day Seven

IMG_0207 We made lots of new friends while walking through Old Town Dhaka, people who wanted to show us all the places westerners didn't know about and naturally had to see, along the way steering us to a relative or friend’s shop.


The old town area is a confusion of narrow streets (and wonderfully little traffic), packed into a labyrinth of alleys and alleys beyond more alleys; it's crowded and noisy, filled with bright colors and colorful people, the scent of frying foods commingling with sweat from all the commercial activity.


I snapped hundreds of pictures. I’m not a great photographer, but when the scenes are this rich it’s like aiming at a barn and firing with buckshot. You know what I mean, I think - absolutely impossible to miss.


The most entertaining of our new friends was a child whom I’d guess to be about 7. It’s not easy to tell because stunting in Bangladesh is so common (about 50 percent of children in the country). For all I know, he could have been 12. He was an urchin – but a charming one. He chattered away in Bangladeshi, which we didn’t understand. He held my hand to show the way he thought we should go. He sang for us. He smiled for at least an hour without pause, and that was after we paid his fee of 10 Tk (maybe $1) for the privilege of his company.


He attached himself to us at the Sadarghat boat terminal, where we went to hire a boat driver for a tour of the Buriganga River, the muddy artery that runs through the heart of the city and out to other parts of the country. It was the weekend, so we had two days without any meetings scheduled before we departed on our field visits. It seemed like a delightful way to spend a day, taking in some sights.


At the dock, we told our little friend it was time for him to go. He would have none of that and hopped on board. What could we do? This is when he started singing.  


Continue reading "Bangladesh: Day Seven" »

La inmigración se desacelera debido a la recesión no a causa de las restricciones impuestas

La petición de los activistas anti-inmigratorios es: “¡Cierren la frontera!” Y para la mayoría de los estadounidenses, asegurar y controlar la frontera es el derecho razonable e incluso necesario  de una nación soberana.

Pero a pesar de su persistente popularidad, históricamente hablando, la vigilancia fronteriza no ha logrado impedir a los inmigrantes entrar al país. De acuerdo con las crecientes restricciones impuestas por lo menos desde la década del 80, la inmigración ilegal aumentó y no decreció.

Ahora la corriente parece estar cambiando (al menos temporalmente).

En 2007 el número de inmigrantes no autorizados en el país alcanzó un máximo de 11.8 millones, según el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS, según sus siglas en inglés). Para el año 2009, el DHS informó que la población de inmigrantes ilegales se redujo a 10.8 millones y los números para el año 2010 muestran una reducción aun mayor.

Este es el primer descenso consecutivo de dos años de la inmigración ilegal en las últimas décadas. Ahora la gran pregunta es: ¿Por qué?

El consenso entre muchos expertos ha sido que la inmigración no autorizada es impulsada por las condiciones económicas: los inmigrantes de América Latina están motivados por la combinación que existe entre la pobreza y la falta de empleos en sus países de origen y la abundancia de empleos y salarios más altos en los Estados Unidos. Mientras existieran empleos disponibles en los EE.UU., y la pobreza persistiera en América Latina, los inmigrantes no eran disuadidos por la militarización y los peligros de cruzar la frontera.

De hecho, hasta hace poco, algunos expertos indicaron que el aumento de vigilancia en la frontera en los años 1990 y 2000, en realidad llevó a menos detenciones de inmigrantes, ya que los inmigrantes fueron empujados a los cruces fronterizos más remotos donde había menos agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza—por ejemplo, Sonora en el desierto de Arizona.

Pero en la última semana, varios analistas (y el DHS) han afirmado que el reducido número en migración ilegal se debe al aumento de las restricciones impuestas. El escritor Edward Schumacher-Matos escribió en el periódico Post de Washington que: “Las restricciones están funcionando, algo que muchos activistas pro-inmigración no desean y que los restriccioncitas se niegan a reconocer”.

Para reforzar su afirmación, Schumacher-Matos toma nota de la disminución del número de inmigrantes ilegales: sólo 175,000 entraron entre marzo de 2008 y marzo de 2009 en comparación con 650,000 en 2005. También toma nota de que la Patrulla Fronteriza registró una reducción del 70% en las detenciones el año pasado.

Aunque no existe ninguna razón para debatir los números, la lógica es incorrecta. Una cantidad menor de cruces ilegales no significa que la Patrulla Fronteriza de repente esté disuadiendo a los inmigrantes exitosamente.

La merma de la migración ilegal ha coincidido con otro cambio reciente en los Estados Unidos: La Gran Recesión. Menos inmigrantes están viajando a los EE.UU., debido a que no hay tantos empleos. Alrededor del 60% de los empleos perdidos durante la recesión se encontraban en la industria de la construcción, manufacturera y en el comercio—los sectores que emplean a la mayoría de los trabajadores migrantes de América Latina. La tasa de desempleo de los migrantes mexicanos en los EE.UU., llegó al 12% en 2009 y la tasa de pobreza aumentó de un 20% en 2007 a un 27% en 2009.

Este tipo de noticias viaja con rapidez entre los inmigrantes en los EE.UU., y los países de origen de inmigrantes en México y América Central. Si las perspectivas de progreso económico en los EE.UU., son escasas, como consecuencia los inmigrantes potenciales estarán menos propensos a dejar su tierra natal y tomarán su tiempo hasta que la economía de EE.UU., mejore.

Las conclusiones de los analistas de que no ha habido un éxodo masivo de inmigrantes indocumentados procedentes de los EE.UU., hacia América Latina apoyan el argumento de que es una falta de empleos y no un exceso de restricciones impuestas lo que ha frenado la inmigración ilegal.

Analistas de investigación de inmigración también confirman que la razón principal por la cual la migración ha disminuido se debe a la recesión. Esto es consistente con la disminución histórica de la migración durante la mayor parte de los períodos de alto desempleo en los EE.UU., y su aumento cuando la economía crea nuevos empleos.

Aunque la aplicación de restricciones sin precedentes sin duda alguna puede estar jugando un papel en disuadir a los inmigrantes haciendo sus vidas más desagradables en los EE.UU., y en la frontera, su papel en la disminución de la inmigración ilegal es sobrepasado por el estado de la economía y la falta de empleos de baja calificación que generalmente son ocupados por inmigrantes.

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