Contrary to many proponents of the Alabama Anti-Immigration Bill, there are many social, fiscal, financial and moral consequences to the enforcement of the law. The immigration issue is much more complex than Senator Beason, Congressmen Brooks, and Representative Hammon suggest
One such complication is the number of children born in the US to the undocumented immigrant; it is not a minor one either. According to this recent study,
Births have surpassed immigration as the main driver of the dynamic growth in the U.S. Hispanic population. This new trend is especially evident among the largest of all Hispanic groups-Mexican-Americans, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
In the decade from 2000 to 2010, the Mexican-American population grew by 7.2 million as a result of births and 4.2 million as a result of new immigrant arrivals. This is a change from the previous two decades when the number of new immigrants either matched or exceeded the number of births.
Each of these 7.2 million are US citizens. The Alabama children that are part of the 7.2 million are the ones that Beason-Hammon will directly inpact.
The current surge in births among Mexican-Americans is largely attributable to the immigration wave that has brought more than 10 million immigrants to the United States from Mexico since 1970. Between 2006 and 2010 alone, more than half (53%) of all Mexican-American births were to Mexican immigrant parents. As a group, these immigrants are more likely than U.S.-born Americans to be in their prime child-bearing years. They also have much higher fertility.
This is the real world that the drafters of Beason-Hammon did not contemplate or consider. How many US citizens are we treating legally as a sub-class of persons because of parentage? In addition to the fiscal costs of DHR assuming custody of many of these children (see here and here), the passage and enforcement of this law will have cultural and social blow-back for generations.
UPDATE: NPR interviewed some children of undocumented immigrants. It is worth listening to the situation from their perspective.
Alicia Martinez’s family illustrates some of the complexities of the debate over illegal immigration. Martinez’s parents and her older sister came here illegally, while she was born in the U.S. and is a citizen. In a story for WNYC’s Radio Rookies program, Martinez reflects on her struggles to meet her parents’ high expectations and overcome guilt that her legal status gives her so many more opportunities than her sister.