[Guest post by DRJ]
According to an Inter-American Development Bank survey, fewer Latin American immigrants in America – legal or illegal – are sending money home, although the ones who do are sending more money, more frequently:
“The longstanding pattern of increasing numbers of Latin American immigrants sending increasing amounts of money back home has stopped,” said Donald Terry, the general manager of the Multilateral Investment Fund at the bank and the official in charge of the survey. With lower income and less job security, Latino immigrants are saving their money here rather than sending it to support children, spouses and parents at home, the study indicated.
Latino immigrants said they stopped sending money to their families because life is becoming more difficult for them here. Of those interviewed, 81 percent said it was harder to find a good-paying job. Almost 40 percent said they were earning less this year. The largest group of immigrants in the survey, 18 percent, worked in construction, which has been especially hard hit in the slowdown.”
More immigrants reported encountering hostility and discrimination, and an increased number were also considering a return to their home countries:
“A large majority of the Latino immigrants in the survey — whether or not they were illegal — said they experienced increasing hostility as a result of U.S. government and state efforts to curb illegal immigration and punish employers who hire unauthorized immigrant workers. In the survey, 61 percent of Latinos who were American citizens and 66 percent of those who were legal immigrants said that discrimination had become a major problem for them.
As a result of the difficulties, the numbers of immigrants who said they were considering going back to live in their home countries increased notably. Among immigrants who have been here less than five years, 49 percent said they were thinking of returning home, while only 41 percent said they planned to remain in the United States. Over all, just under one-third of the immigrants said they were thinking of leaving this country.
In 2001, the last time a similar survey asked a comparable question, about 20 percent of all the immigrants interviewed said they were thinking of going home.”
At the same time, almost 70% of the interviewees felt their lives were better in America than they would be in their home countries. According to the pollster who conducted the survey, their major concern was fear that they would not be able to get or keep American jobs.
Legal immigrants should not have to fear for their jobs. However, without a breakdown in the responses from legal and illegal immigrants, it’s hard to evaluate this information. It’s also difficult to tell if their fears are justifiably based on anti-immigrant attitudes or on the slowing of the economy, especially in housing which employs many immigrants.