July 30, 2007

Illegal Immigration Traffic In Colorado Decreasing

The RMN article only refers to "Hispanic immigrants", though we all know that legal immigrants, like my brother-in-law who has his green card, would not fear "documentation" requirements:
Juan Marcos Rodriguez, of Aurora, waited for the next bus to the border in an otherwise empty lobby of Autobuses Americanos in downtown Denver.

The 46-year-old native of Chihuahua, Mexico, was on his way home - for good.

"It's getting too difficult to stay," said Rodriguez, a construction worker who came to the United States illegally in 2003. "It was fine when I got here. It was easy to get work. Nobody bothered you. Now, everyone is asking for documentation. I want to live a more tranquil life."

Rodriguez is hardly alone, say local business owners who cater to Hispanic immigrants. They say state laws aimed at curbing illegal immigration, along with several high-profile raids in Colorado by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials over the past year, have scared away their immigrant clientele.
Those evil, racist Americans insisting on their sovereignty, and law enforcement! Will ensuring the tranquility of life of illegal immigrants be the next civil right?

If the economic pulls that drove illegal immigration begin to falter, it is logical that economic measures would be the easiest way to quantify any change in illegal immigration levels. Businesses catering to Hispanic clientele would be hardest hit, and the responses from those in Denver seem to bolster that assumption:
Alfredo Castro doesn't need a study to tell him what he has already felt in his pocketbook.

He's the owner of Autobuses Los Paisanos, a bus company in downtown Denver. Like Autobuses Americanos, it specializes in trips to border cities and points farther south. Business has declined more than 30 percent over the last 12 months, he said.

"People don't like to travel anymore," said Castro, who has had his business for six years. "There are too many delays at the immigration checkpoints along the way. The raids. The new laws. The political climate is affecting us all."
. . .
Farmers and contractors believe that the political climate in Colorado and other Western states is keeping away immigrant workers - both legal and illegal.

For Richard Falcon, owner of a satellite dish company on South Federal Boulevard in Denver, fewer workers means fewer customers. He said business is down by more than 60 percent.

About 90 percent of his business is done with Hispanics, he said, some of them in the country illegally. Several of his customers from Greeley were either deported in the Dec. 12 raid of the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant that netted 261 workers, or have fled the state, he said.

"People are afraid to commit to long-term contracts or make big purchases such as cars or homes because they don't know how long they'll continue living in this country," Falcon said.

Many other companies that rely on a largely immigrant clientele are experiencing the same problems, he said.

"Stores, restaurants, Spanish-language radio stations - they're all feeling the effects of this whole immigration mess," he said.

After two years in business, Carlos Nevi, owner of Denver Mortgage Pros, is closing his doors permanently.

Nevi's clientele consisted largely of immigrants who obtained home loans with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or ITIN. In 1996 the IRS began issuing the numbers to foreign nationals who were not eligible to obtain Social Security cards as a way to encourage compliance with U.S. tax laws.

"Since they started the marches, since they started the raids, since they began passing legislation that went after immigrants, I've lost business," he said. "People have stopped coming. I can't pay my bills anymore."
So, even the threat of enforcement seems to have some effect on reducing illegal immigration. Imagine what real enforcement would do. There is the possibility, however, that many illegal immigrants are simply laying low, biding time to see whether or not the enforcement movement is credible, or simply a passing phase.

However, if there is such a drastic decrease in Hispanic clientele (not all of whom, obviously, are likely to have questionable immigration status), why are Spanish-only or Spanish-first ads gaining such prominence?

Freedom Folks brings us this example from a midwest grocery chain:

Or this, from Slapstick's neighborhood:

Given my marketing background, I understand the need to reach out to non-English speaking consumers. But if the numbers these businesses cite are accurate or reflective of even state-wide trends (anecdotal evidence is always sketchy), then the market for such advertising should actually be shrinking.

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