The Center for American Progress has launched a new series to highlight the stories of undocumented immigrants and describe how our immigration policies affect all of us. The first report, Staying Put but Still in the Shadows, asks the question: “Have anti-immigration bills led to an exodus of unauthorized migrants from the US as restrictionists have promised?” The study authors find that:
- Most undocumented immigrants decide to stay in the country.
- Anti-immigrant laws push immigrants from one area to another and displace them from their homes and neighborhoods.
- State efforts to force undocumented immigrants out of the country are expensive: Arizona’s SB 1070 cost the state at least $14 million; Georgia’s HB 87 cost between $300 million and $1 billion; Alabama’s law could cost as high as $10.8 billion.
As highlighted in this report, harsh policies that attempt to make life unbearable for undocumented immigrants are not only inhumane, but ineffective and costly. Recently, we have seen Republican Presidential candidates shamelessly promote similar policies in the GOP debates: for instance, Mitt Romney called Arizona’s SB 1070 a “model policy” and has advocated for “self-deportation” – a tactic that, as explained in a New York Times editorial, is based on making life so miserable for undocumented immigrants that they “choose” to self-deport.
From a public health perspective, these policies create unacceptable social and economic inequities that lead to poor health among immigrants. To work to improve health, public health professionals investigate the “root causes” of poor health. When looking at immigrant health, we need to look at how xenophobia and discrimination shape policies that push our communities into the shadows. If we are to build healthier communities, we need to ensure that we have fair policies that provide access and rights to all, not just to a few. We should not have a society built on policies that aim to make life unbearable for particular communities.
In the News
Aging Migrant Workers Face Perilous Future in Salinas, New America Media, 2.20.12
In this commentary piece, Joaquin Magon exposes the injustices that aging migrant workers face. He comments that “the reality is this: Capital is valued above humanity, and those that cannot produce capital have no room in this world.”
National gathering in L.A. spotlights plight of day laborers, Los Angeles Times, 2.21.12
Hundreds of day laborers and former day laborers gathered in downtown Los Angeles for a week-long conference “to measure their progress since day laborers began a concerted effort to organize themselves two decades ago.” The program also covered immigration issues.
Georgia Immigration Law: Senate Bill 458 Would Ban Undocumented Immigrants From Public Colleges, Huffington Post, 2.23.12
Georgia Senate Committee passes SB 458 in an attempt to further marginalize undocumented students by banning them from public schools. The bill now moves to the full Senate.
Arizona to Create an “Armed Militia” Along its Border, News Taco, 2.24.12
Arizona is at it again: a new bill aims to place an “armed militia” on the national border between Arizona and Mexico.