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Drop In Mexican-Born Immigrants Attributed To Hostility Here, Opportunity There

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New Census figures show the number of Mexican immigrants living in the United States dropped more last year than at any point in the past decade, a plunge that came as the Trump administration took power and made the deportation of unauthorized immigrants a top priority.

The number of U.S. residents — legal and undocumented — born in Mexico has dropped slowly since a peak of 11.7 million before the Great Recession, to 11.3 million in 2017, but the decline of 300,000 between 2016 and 2017 is rare.

The sudden plunge seems to be an acceleration of a long-term trend of native Mexicans returning to their homeland. The results have been tough for Mexico: Among its challenges are schools jammed with English-speaking, often American-born children brought by parents who either were deported, feared deportation or saw more opportunity and less hostility south of the border.

“It could be new opportunity or that the U.S. has made them feel less welcome. I suspect it’s both,” said Andrew Selee, president of the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.

The last time there was a drop of this magnitude in the Mexican-born U.S. population was between 2007 and 2008, when the Great Recession started and the federal government began cracking down on illegal immigration using the Secure Communities program. That year, the number of Mexican immigrants living in the United States dropped by about 326,000.

Last year, border states and those dependent on immigrant farm labor took the biggest hits in the loss of Mexicans: California lost more than 137,000 Mexican immigrants, and Texas lost more than 55,000. Other states losing more than 10,000 Mexican immigrants were Florida, Georgia, New York and Washington state.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center of Immigration Studies, which favors lower levels of immigration, said it’s hard to tell what caused the decline. “If it is due to increased enforcement deterring some people from coming here illegally, that could be beneficial. If it prevents them from undertaking a dangerous journey that could cost them their life savings and result in their being harmed or even killed, that is a good thing.” 

Large Drop in Mexican Immigrant Population
The population of Mexican-born immigrants dropped by more than 300,000 between 2016 and 2017, the largest drop in a decade.
Year One-year change in
Mexican immigrant population
2011 – 38,484
2012 – 109,245
2013 21,603
2014 129,512
2015 -71,191
2016 -69,618
2017 -303,767
States with largest drops in Mexican immigrant population, 2016-2017
State One-year change in
Mexican immigrant population
Percentage
change
California – 137,352 -3%
Texas – 55,232 -2%
New York -27,196 -11%
Washington -12,711 -5%
Georgia -12,303 -5%
Florida -12,109 -4%

Sources: U.S. Census American Community Survey and Stateline analysis

Many farmworkers in upstate New York, especially single men, left after the 2016 presidential election raised tension, recalled Luis Jimenez, a dairy farmworker from Mexico who volunteers with the “Alianza Agricola” (Spanish for the Agricultural Alliance), a group of farmworkers advocating for more immigrant rights in New York.

“Some people went back rather than wait to be arrested and deported,” Jimenez said. “Those of us with wives and children mostly decided to stay. It’s a hard choice. It’s dangerous either way. If you go back there’s crime and kidnappings and the schools are not as good, so for now we’re staying for our children’s sake.”

The Mexican government, which interviews returning citizens at the border, has not seen evidence that 300,000 people moved back between 2016 and 2017, said Carlos Hernandez, a statistical technician at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, Mexico. It’s possible that, because of backlogs in U.S. immigration courts, some have been arrested but not yet deported, he said. “[If] thousands of migrants are detained, but they have not been deported, that could explain the reduction,” Hernandez said.

Nationally, evidence shows that children of immigrants have faced growing hostility in U.S. schools, and that may be driving some parents to move with their children to Mexico even if they’re not forced to do so by deportation or job loss in today’s immigration crackdowns, said Patricia Gándara, the co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA and a professor at the university who studies education.

In a study to be published soon, Gándara and the Civil Rights Project surveyed schools in a dozen states and found the most hostility to immigrant children in the South. Southern states passed a wave of anti-immigration bills in the early 2010s that caused some Hispanic communities to pack up and leave.

“Our researcher heard literally thousands of stories about children crying in school or just not showing up,” Gándara said. “They may be afraid to leave home, thinking their parents could be taken away.”

Tens of thousands of American-born children are enrolling every year in Mexican public schools, Gándara said. And Selee said the number of American children living in Mexico likely has reached more than half a million.

“These are our children,” Gándara said. “They grew up here or were born here, and now they end up in Mexico, a place they may never have seen before. It might be voluntary or involuntary — there could be one deportation but the entire family follows because that’s their livelihood.”

Arrests and deportations of unauthorized immigrants have increased under the Trump administration but are still down from the peak of crackdowns under the Obama administration, in part because of local sanctuary policies that have held down immigration arrests.

The Trump administration has reversed some Obama-era protections for those without criminal convictions and conducted high-profile raids and arrests intended to sow fear even in sanctuary cities.

At the same time, Mexico has boosted wages and agreed to let unions negotiate for workers in a bid to lure back former residents.

Western states such as California, a “sanctuary state,” have broken new ground in protecting the undocumented as much as possible. But many immigrants thought they were singled out for extra harassment as “payback” for those policies through targeted raids and arrests, according to a working paper for the UCLA study.

Western farmers have long depended on immigrant labor, much of it from Mexico, said Cory Lunde, a director at the Western Growers Association, which represents farms in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. In recent years farmers have seen their workforce drop by 15 to 30 percent, Lunde said. Many growers are combatting labor shortages by increasing automation, he said.

Historically, the decrease does not approach the scale of two watershed mass deportation events that each returned as many as a million or more Mexican-Americans to Mexico: mass repatriations during the Depression in the 1930s, and the derogatorily named Operation Wetback program in the mid-1950s.

In Georgia, a state dependent on labor-intensive crops like Vidalia onions and blueberries that can’t be harvested by machine, farmworkers from Mexico migrate from Florida to pick onions in the spring and blueberries in the summer.

But because of two consecutive bad years for blueberries, many stopped coming, and that may have contributed to Georgia’s drop in Mexican immigrants, said Andy Lucas, a program specialist at the Georgia Farm Bureau. There were scattered reports of labor shortages this spring as onions were being picked, he said.

Georgia farmers know how much they need immigrant labor, Lucas said.

“There’s a lot of loyalty and trust in this business,” Lucas said. “You don’t go out and plant a blueberry bush or put an onion in the ground without knowing where the workers are going to come from — you’d be foolish.”

The largest drops in the Mexican-born population were in cities and suburbs, though rural areas also were affected. The Migration Policy Institute’s Selee said Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston had the largest drops among cities.

Mexican immigrants remain by far the largest immigrant group in the nation at 11.3 million, with immigrants from China a distant second at 2.8 million and India third at 2.6 million.

“It’s a significant drop, but it is still the largest immigrant group,” Selee said. “It’s still a quarter of the immigrant population, down from a third a decade ago, but it’s a very significant group. And if you count second-, third- and fourth-generation Mexican-Americans, it’s huge.”

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Ontario’s new automated speed enforcement explained

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(NC) To wage the war against speeding, many municipalities across Ontario have turned to automated speed enforcement. Most recently introduced in Toronto, speed cameras are a high-tech solution to reduce speeding and are considered one of the most effective ways to create safer roads and save lives.  

Recognizing police officers cannot catch all speeders, these cameras fill the gap, providing monitoring in specific locations around the clock. When a car’s speed is even one kilometre over the posted amount, it will take a picture of the offending vehicle’s license plate, using the captured photo as indisputable evidence. A ticket is then served to the vehicle’s owner, regardless of who was driving. 

With a focus on high-risk areas, Ontario’s automated speed enforcement cameras are located in two specific municipal areas: school and community safety zones. School zones are designated streets close to a school, featuring reduced speed limits as dictated by local bylaws. Community safety zones are high-risk corridors and intersections, subject to increased fines and penalties.  

While the Ontario Highway Traffic Act outlines the use of automated speed enforcement, municipalities can decide when and where to use cameras to curb speeding. The act does dictate financial penalties for speed violations captured with cameras, which vary depending on the number of kilometres caught over the speed limit.  

Speed enforcement is not new, but part of a broader, integrated road safety strategy that includes infrastructure improvements, awareness campaigns and new uses of technology. City officials hope for a halo effect, inspiring better driving behaviour across entire communities, not only in areas with cameras. A controversial topic, some critics take exception to speed cameras, labelling them as sneaky cash grabs for municipalities. Governments think the opposite. 

Safety advocate and auto insurance provider Onlia is hopeful that the cameras will provide drivers with a reminder to slow down, especially in high-risk areas like school and community safety zones.  

For those who obey the speed limit, automated speed enforcement shouldn’t change anything about your driving style, says Alex Kelly, Safety Ambassador at OnliaDrivers have fair warning as they approach areas with speed cameras, as mandatory signs provide reasonable notice of upcoming automated speed enforcement. Regardless of warnings, the best speed is the posted speed. 

You can start to understand your speeding style by downloading the insurance provider’s new safe driving app that coaches and rewards for you for safe driving habits.

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Online banking: How to protect yourself from fraud

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(NC) Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, a growing number of consumers are regularly using mobile and online banking to paybill payments, transfer money and make purchases.

Although these tools can give you easy access to your personal finances on demand, there are also some risks involved. For instance, your banking information—such as your debit or credit card number, user name, or personal identification number (PIN)—could be stolen. If criminals have access to your online banking information, they can steal your money, which is why it’s so important to be  vigilant when you bank online.

Follow these tips to help protect your personal and banking information:

  • For your online bank accounts, use a strong password that can’t be easily guessed, and never share your user name or password with anyone.
  • Check your accounts regularly to make sure there are no transactions you didn’t make or authorize.
  • When making online purchases, never authorize a website to save your credit card information, password or other personal information. Giving websites this permission will save you some time the next time you access the site, but it poses a real threat if a hacker manages to access your information.

Most financial institutions have policies to protect you from transactions that you didn’t make.

However, you are responsible for protecting your online and mobile banking information. If you give your details to anyone—including your spouse or partner, a family member or a friend—your financial institution may hold you responsible for any unauthorized transactions in your account, and even strip you of protection from unauthorized transactions in the future.

If you suspect your information may have been compromised, change your passwords immediately, and check your account and credit card statements for anomalies and report any suspicious transactions to your financial institution.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has created resources to help you protect your online banking information.

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Payday loans: Not the best way to borrow money

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(NC) Payday loans are a very expensive way to borrow money. Even if you’re struggling financially, think twice—and crunch the numbers—before getting this type of loan.

Depending on the rules in your province, payday lenders can charge fees of $15 to $25 per $100 that you borrow.

As an example, let’s say you borrow $300 for home repairs. The payday lender charges you $51 in fees, or $17 for every $100 borrowed. Your loan balance is therefore $351, which amounts to an interest rate of 442 per cent.

There can be serious consequences if you don’t repay your loan by the due date. These may include the following:

  • The payday lender may charge you a fee if there isn’t enough money in your account.
  • Your financial institution may also charge you a fee if there isn’t enough money in your account.
  • The total amount that you owe, including the fees, continues to increase.

There are better options out there

Payday loans should be your last resort to borrow money. Consider cheaper ways of borrowing money, such as:

  • Cashing in vacation days or asking for a pay advance from your employer.
  • Getting a line of credit, a cash advance on a credit card or a personal loan from your financial institution.
  • Getting a loan from family or friends.

Before getting a payday loan and to avoid getting stuck in a debt trap, consider other, less expensive ways to borrow money.

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