This article caught my eye because of the headline: “Many came here legally, but overstayed.” Huh. Really? I’d like to know more about that, so I continued reading. The subtitle departed from that main theme and it pretty much deteriorated from there.
Illegals who actually came to the US legally but have outstayed their legal right to do so is an interesting story, one I’ve not seen covered. Unfortunately I still haven’t as the authors quickly abandoned that topic, betraying their bias on the issue and taking the obligatory swipe at the Arizona law.
They first tipped their hand when they attributed the Arizona law as being sparked by “resentment.” This characterization is made with no mention of the federal government’s abdication of securing our borders or protecting our citizenry and sovereignty. No account either of the violence and drugs pouring into Arizona. Resentment. Arizona is filled with mean bigots, that’s why they enacting the law. Oh, and by the way, the authors let us know that Georgians are just as mean because a majority would support such a law here.
(How could this be avoided, dear ajc reader? Did you know this is an election year? Whom should you vote for as Governor to avoid such bigotry and mean-spiritedness in our state? Well, hold on, they’ll get to that.)
The authors also state: “Among other things, the measure would have allowed police to make a warrantless arrest of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally…” Do the authors think that “among other things” adequately describes the balance and spirit of the Arizona law?
My understanding of the Arizona law is that such an arrest would be warrantless, as would an arrest resulting from a traffic stop. The way in which this is glossed over makes it sound like people could be arrested on the street for looking Hispanic. This is irresponsible journalism, and by irresponsible I mean reprehensible.
One critical statistic obvious by it’s omission is the link between crime and illegals and the costs, both human and monetary associated. Interestingly, costs are addressed in terms of public education (but not illegals attending college on scholarships meant for state residents) and a bit on healthcare – but no real numbers cited, just “increased cost.” But there is no mention whatsoever of the impact on the court and corrections systems nor the proportion of non-citizens in our legal system as compared to the rest of the population, nor the national security risks caused by a porous border.
“It is hard to separate any analysis from its authors, said Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group.”
You don’t say.
“Organizations that tend to favor immigration and immigrants emphasize the positive contributions,” he said. “Those that are opposed to immigration tend to emphasize the cost and overstate them.”
So Passell of the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group — never to be confused with impartial — makes his own point in stating that proponents [merely] neglect to mention the negatives but those opposed to “immigration” actually lie by “overstating the costs.”
All this to say: The ajc would like to see Roy Barnes as Governor.
For those unfamiliar with Georgia politics, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently endorsed the leading Republican, Karen Handel in our state Governor’s race.
There’s more, but I’ve left some of the fun of playing Where’s Waldo for you…
Many came here legally, but overstayed
Immigrants a force in Georgia
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
While accurate numbers are hard to find, most estimates put the number of
foreign-born residents in Georgia at nearly 1 million — the ninth-largest
immigrant segment in the United States.
Perhaps half of those, various estimates say, are here illegally — more than
the total number in Arizona, where a new state law aimed at reducing the
number of illegal immigrants is set to take effect today.
While most illegal immigrants live and work under the radar in Georgia, they
have created an indelible economic footprint here, according to a number of
● They account for about $9.4 billion in a state economy of roughly $320
● They contribute between $215 million and $253 million to state coffers in
the form of sales, income and property taxes.
● They account for 6.3 percent of Georgia’s work force, but in some industries
they are the lion’s share of workers. Experts estimate that 40 percent to 50
percent of the workers in agriculture — the state’s largest industry — are
Others point out that the influx of illegal immigrants to Georgia and
elsewhere in recent years has also had a major impact on social services
including education, welfare and health care, and meant fewer jobs and lower
wages for some workers.
While the issue of legal status has prompted most of the immigration debate,
those impacts, too, have helped generate the sort of resentment that helped
spark the new Arizona law. Among other things, the measure would have
allowed police to make a warrantless arrest of anyone suspected of being in
the country illegally, but a federal judge Wednesday blocked that and other
portions of the law from taking effect.
In Georgia, the issue of illegal immigrants has become a debating point in the
gubernatorial race. And a recent poll by the Georgia Newspaper Partnership,
which includes the AJC, showed most Georgia voters would support an
Economy drew many
For decades, it was border states like Arizona or ports of entry like New York
that drew most immigrants. But since 2000, Georgia’s foreign-born population
has surged by 58 percent — the second-fastest growth in the United States.
The flow began accelerating as the 1996 Olympics gave Georgia a global stage
and the economy boomed. They came in unprecedented numbers, often
undertaking 18-hour trips from Texas border towns to harvest Vidalia onions
on South Georgia farms, work in poultry plants and carpet factories in North
Georgia and build thousands of “McMansions” in metro Atlanta.
Two years of recession seem to have tempered the flow, but only a smattering
of the newcomers have left Georgia, according to estimates.
“It used to be six states and you could tell the immigration story. You can’t
do that anymore,” said James Smith, senior economist at the Rand Corp. and
author of “The New Americans: The Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Impacts
“About 10 years ago, they started spreading out to the rest of the country,”
For most of the past two decades, Georgia was one of the country’s most
vibrant economies, with urgent demand for workers to staff restaurants,
hotels and factories, to carry lumber or hammer nails in a near-frenzy of
At the same time, workers facing shrinking opportunities were abandoning the
farms of Mexico, the villages of Guatemala and even the cities and vineyards
of California for better opportunities.
“The reason why we have a sizeable undocumented population when the economy
was booming is because we had jobs and we had people looking for jobs,” said
Clarissa Martinez, director of immigration at the National Council of La
Raza in Washington, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy
And while laborers immigrating illegally from Latin America drew the most
notice, others became illegal only after arriving. Many came as students,
employees and tourists — then stayed after their visas expired.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates, in fact, that nearly 45 percent of the
nation’s illegal residents had legal status when they arrived. Estimates for
Georgia are similar.
Those immigrants tend to have higher income and more education, since they
were vetted at least once by the government. That may partially explain why
immigrants in Georgia are, on average, slightly poorer than other residents,
but better off than immigrants in border states.
Moreover, the income gap between immigrants and native-born residents is much
smaller here than in Arizona: The average household of illegal immigrants in
Georgia, for instance, has an income of $55,230 — 10 percent below the rest
of the population, according to a study by the Center for Immigration
Studies, a nonprofit research group in Washington.
In contrast, the average income of illegal immigrant households in Arizona is
barely half that of other residents.
Pluses and minuses
Two decades of immigration — authorized and otherwise — has reshaped Georgia,
burdening the state’s economy in some ways and lifting it in others.
About 40 percent of the state’s illegal immigrants benefit from a major
welfare program. About half of all members of illegal immigrant families
have no health insurance — which drives up health costs through use of
But the heaviest “taxpayer effect” added by immigrants is the stress on the
school system, economist Smith said.
“The taxpayer effect will be negative when the income of the immigrant is
lower and when the immigrants are young with kids in school,” he explained.
The proportion is not huge, although it is more heavily concentrated in some
areas of the state.
Illegal immigrants account for 2.8 percent of the school-age (5 to 17)
population, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Add in children
born to illegal residents, who are citizens under the U.S. Constitution, and
the number becomes 6.2 percent of the state’s school-age population.
“The direct effect on the economy is always positive,” Smith said. “They
enhance the productive capacity of the economy. Even though there are
distribution effects — they lower some other wages.”
But for those people whose wages are lowered, the pain is quite real, said
Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies.
“The job competition issue is a big one,” he said. “Immigrants compete with
less-educated workers and teenagers. [Those groups’] unemployment rates were
awful even before the recession. It’s a long-term issue.”
Up to half of teenage unemployment can be pegged to the impact of immigration,
A major impact
Yet the economic impact — including that of illegal residents — is a plus
overall, according to a study released Wednesday by the Immigration Policy
Center, a nonpartisan, Washington-based research group that often provides
information to Congress. While they take jobs, the study shows, their
presence and their spending expands the economy and makes jobs.
Remove all the illegal immigrants from the state and Georgia would lose $21.3
billion in economic activity, which would cost the state an additional
132,460 jobs, according to study done for Americans for Immigration Reform,
a Houston-based, business-sponsored group that supports changes to current
It is hard to separate any analysis from its authors, said Jeffrey Passel,
senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group.
“Organizations that tend to favor immigration and immigrants emphasize the
positive contributions,” he said. “Those that are opposed to immigration
tend to emphasize the cost and overstate them.”
What is clear is the magnitude of the immigrant presence, said Jerry Gonzalez,
executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, a
group with 200 members and 7,000 citizens statewide. Any measure that might
spur an immigrant exodus from Georgia, he said, would have “very severe”
As of 2008, there were 11.9 million illegal immigrants in the United States,
according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
The vast majority come from Latin American countries. Here’s how Georgia
stacks up against Arizona and California, the latter of which is home to the
largest population of illegal immigrants.