From Our "We Told You So" Department: First Steps To Deportation Via Attrition
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The Houston Chronicle reported today that in Texas, wetbacks are back and have diversified their border-crossings. (Laws aimed at hiring illegal workers drive many to Texas, by James Pinkerton, The Houston Chronicle 02/03/08)

Swarming in from Arizona and Oklahoma, where lawmakers have removed incentives for illegals to work, hundreds of families have relocated to Houston. There are an estimated 400,000 to 450,000 illegal immigrants in Houston already — a city known for its terrible sprawl and traffic.

Despite the Chronicle's attempt to spin the numbers by saying that many of the immigrants are "Central American refugees" and attributing Texas' stability in the national housing slump to "a long tradition of relying on skilled labor from Latin America" (skilled in what, exactly?) it profiles some day laborers who spell it all out under the subtitle "Labor up, income down":

''I was working [in Oklahoma] in September, but they passed a law that allows the local police to act like immigration agents," Fernandez said. ''I came here 25 days after they passed the law – I wasn't going to let them experiment on me."

Ortiz, a native of southern Mexico, said he left Phoenix eight months ago working 60 to 70 hours a week as a nursery worker.

Immigration agents raided his job site, but he evaded arrest.

Now, he's standing on Houston street corners. He said that in a good week he can pick up two or three days of yardwork. He barely earns enough, after paying his rent and food bills, to send money home to his wife and son in Tabasco state.

So, kids, what do we learn from this?

1. Remove incentives, and immigrants will remove themselves, 2. Law enforcement does have a deterrent effect on other illegals 3. A steep increase in the illegal population in a city even as large a Houston means less work for everybody, including those who were there first. In other words, competition does exist, even where skill does not.

I even find some solace in the misguided conclusion on which the article ends:

As the implications of laws in other states play out, Hubbard, the Mexican consul from Dallas, doubts many immigrants will go back to Mexico.

'I think they will relocate. They will at least give it one more try," Hubbard said. ''It's very difficult to cross the border, and expensive, too."

One more try? And then what? It's more difficult and expensive to be away from your family, living under the law, speaking a foreign language with no job, than it is to just go home.

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