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State Anti-Immigration Laws Discourage All Latinos from Moving In

A study finds that state-level immigration laws slow the migration of all Latinos regardless of their immigration status.
Image: Moving trucks line a street as residents evacuate from an apartment complex which in danger of collapsing due to El Nino storm erosion in Pacifica
FILE PHOTO: Moving trucks line a streets as residents evacuate from an apartment complex which in danger of collapsing due to El Nino storm erosion in Pacifica, California on Jan. 26, 2016.NOAH BERGER / Reuters

States that passed anti-immigration legislation are losing out on Latinos who are not migrating to these areas — and this includes Hispanics born in the U.S.

The University of Washington – Dartmouth study tracked interstate migration of U.S.-born Latinos, naturalized Latinos and non-citizen Latinos since 1995. Researchers tracked how Hispanics moved within the U.S. as states passed anti-immigration legislation during and after the Great Recession.

Here are the states the study deems "Hostile."
Here are the states the study deems "Hostile." The study, "State-Scale Immigration Enforcement and Latino Interstate Migration in the United States," tracked Latino interstate migration before, during and after the Great Recession.Leerkes, Leach and Bachmeier (2012)

These “hostile states” have laws that require immigration-status verification to acquire a driver’s license, call for universal employment verification, or plan to cut funding to "Sanctuary Cities." In Arizona specifically, the controversial bill SB 1070, also known as the “Show Me Your Papers” bill, required citizens to present proof of their immigration status on demand to law enforcement.

"This is a loss of human capital." said Richard Wright, a co-author of the study, in an interview with NBC Latino. "The goals of the legislation are to target unauthorized populations, but it is clear the effects of the legislation are affecting migration behavior of all Latinos. There is a racialization that takes place."

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Wright, a Professor of Geography at Dartmouth College, said the majority of these "hostile states" saw large numbers of migrating Latinos during the economic boom of the late 1990s — regardless of their immigration status. As Las Vegas and Phoenix saw construction booms, for example, so did their Latino populations.

Since the Great Recession hit in 2008, state populations are still growing, and Latinos are still migrating to "hostile states," but they are moving at much slower rates.

"A recession dampens migration, so we expect a decline in population redistribution," Wright said. "What we found in the late 2000's, is that and these state have enacted these laws that target unauthorized people, and we see disproportionate effects on Latinos, and particularly those Latinos nationalized or non citizens."

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