More Illegal Immigrants Choose to Leave U.S., Go Home

There was no one thing that caused Hector Salinas to pack his bags and give up for good on the trials of life as an illegal immigrant in South Florida.

But the reasons he enumerates are echoed by increasing numbers of Latin American immigrants, both legal and not, who appear to be souring on their job prospects and going home:

It was the scant money he made at a menial restaurant job, Salinas said, just enough for food and rent, with barely anything left for his family in Mexico — the reason he came in the first place.

It was the constant fear of being detained by U.S. immigration, especially after the relative with whom he shared a home in West Kendall got stopped while driving without a license. After that, they sold the car and got around with great difficulty on a bicycle.

Finally it was the loneliness. He did not bring his wife and young children, whom he had not seen for 2 ½ years, for fear of the risk of arrest and detention.

”I never lacked for work, but I never felt good here,” Salinas, 43, said in Spanish one recent afternoon, his last in Miami before boarding a plane to Mexico City. “The patrones pay only what they want. You live with very little, and then you’re also alone, and always fearful of arriving at work and having them come looking for you.

“I don’t like living with this uneasiness.”

No hard figures exist, but various surveys and anecdotes from immigrants, their advocates and consular officers in Miami suggest that more Latin Americans are voluntarily heading back home, the apparent result of the U.S. economic downturn and anxiety generated by a federal crackdown on illegal immigration.

The hardest hit appear to be those in agricultural, construction, food processing and service jobs in which many immigrants work.

In South Miami-Dade, even before the winter growing season came to an end, many farmworkers from Mexico and Central America were leaving for home.

”They can’t find work,” said Elvira Carvajal, a volunteer at the Florida Farmworkers Association in Florida City. “Then there is fear in the community because of immigration raids. . . . What are they going to do? A lot of people are opting to leave.”

At the Nicaraguan consulate in West Miami-Dade, the number of Nicaraguan citizens applying for tax exemptions to move their household goods back has risen significantly, said Consul General Luis Martinez. Many are men who found construction work has dried up.

”At least in Nicaragua, they can figure something out to make a living without the fear of getting detained,” Martinez said.

A 2007 U.S. Department of Homeland Security report found that the number of permanent legal residents entering the country last year from South and Central America dropped by a quarter. That followed a big increase from 2005 to 2006.

A recent survey of Latin American immigrants by the Inter-American Development Bank highlights their malaise: 81 percent said it was more difficult now than a year ago to get a well-paying U.S. job. More than a quarter said they were considering going home in the next few years. And 68 percent said anti-immigration sentiment was a major problem — almost double the percentage who said so in 2001.


Not everyone agrees the trend is clear-cut. A consular official in Miami said many Brazilians are going home — some unwillingly, because deportations have increased, and others drawn by an economic revival at home.

”But every day more people are arriving,” said consular official Paulo Amado.

One difference, he said: Those coming to stay increasingly have work visas, in part in response to U.S. immigration enforcement.

Hundreds of Brazilians have returned in recent months to Governador Valadares, an area in the southeast of the country.

Sociology professor Sueli Siqueira, who interviewed hundreds of the returnees, found that 43 percent left the United States because they weren’t satisfied with their earnings. About 28 percent had been deported. ”The cost-benefit of this experience of migration stopped being positive,” Siqueira said, “and they began thinking about coming back.”

The departures are evidence that the Bush administration’s decision to tighten the screws on enforcement is paying off, say proponents of stricter immigration laws.

Several states passed their own laws, from tighter employment verification requirements to authorizing local police to act as immigration agents.

Passage of similar laws in Georgia, coupled with a construction slowdown, prompted Salinas to join a relative in South Florida.

”That’s the whole point of enforcement, to change the climate, to make it as hard as possible for you as an illegal alien, so you can’t just melt away into the shadows,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group favoring sharp curbs on immigration.

But the crackdown’s critics say it has mainly succeeded in spreading fear among the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country without solving the underlying problem.

Source: Miami Herald

Apparently I’m supposed to feel really, really BAD that illegal aliens are just going to pack up their bags and leave because the government is going to (gasp of horror!) enforce the law occasionally. Can you BELIEVE the audacity of these law enforcement officers that will cite people for driving without a driver’s license? (How about for no insurance, or being unable to read the traffic signs that are in English, but I suppose that’s a whole ‘nother round of issues.)

(Checking emotions.) Well, after digging waaaaaay down deep for some sort of emotional well of sadness and despair about illegal immigrants leaving town, I have to admit that it just ain’t there. Vaya con Dios, y’all or, barring that, just vaya.

11 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    zeezil said,

    Illegal aliens are ILLEGALLY in America. We don’t need a single new law to deal with that. All the laws we need to arrest, incarcerate and DEPORT illegals are already on the books. It’s simply a matter of enforcement. Yes, America, yes we can deport illegal aliens. Si Se Puede.

  2. 2

    silentsummoner said,

    Maybe its the decaying american economy. Or maybe its that people are just not seeing the “gringo” dream anymore. Its faded. Its become a country of ignorant, uneducated, and racist people. Alas the comment ” Si se Puede” Its funny, tho when you think about it. DEPORT THE IRISH! NOTHING BUT ROTTEN SCUM- ring anybells gringo?

    • 3

      Hugh said,

      Our nation is made up of immigrants. As one Hispanic American told me; he hires many illegals due the fact that he knows that they need jobs. However, he also withdraws the appropriate taxes, SSN and medicare. He said that he has had many illegal employee’s quit because they don’t like the fact that he does what he is supposed to regarding their wages. He also told them that when the protests occurred, not to show up for work if they skip work and run around flying the Mexican Flag. Another Hispanic lady who came into the country legally, acquired a visa, etc.., said that she understands why American’s are angry as she many illegals are trying to do what is right, but for the most part, the new illegal is here to get what they can, send it back home untaxed, have no pride or concern about America and what makes it great.
      In Mexico, a Mexican national receives jobs over any American seeking employment there. Everyone who is not a Mexican citizen is required to have a visa, no exceptions. When the visa runs out, they have to leave.
      If a non-Mexican person receives employment in Mexico, they must pay taxes, higher than the normal Mexican national.
      If you are found to be without pass-port, you cannot pass go, you must leave the country.
      So, what is good for the goose in good for the gander!!!
      Or can one throw out the RACE-CARD and say-That’s Raciest!!!!!!!!!

  3. 4

    swampie said,

    *sigh* The Irish were LEGAL immigrants. You know, the ones that filled out the paperwork, met the immigration requirements, and were then allowed to enter the country? I don’t care where in the world somebody comes from; if they come here illegally, violating all of our immigration laws and evading background checks for criminal pasts, they can go the hell back home.

    I know that this distinction between “legal” and “illegal” is very difficult for you to grasp, but give it a try. Then go check and see how Mexico or any other Latin American country handles people that are in their country or countries illegally.

    America continues to welcome legal immigrants.

  4. 5

    Gonzalo said,

    Oh, so now Mexico sets the standard by which we operate. Whatever the pros and cons as anyone may see them, this country is not supposed to do things just because other countries do it–good or bad.

  5. 6

    bluesatin said,

    I wish we could all see those kinds of changes on the west coast especially Southern California

  6. 7

    David T. Bigford said,


    1 There will be no special bilingual programs in the schools.
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    2. All ballots will be in this nation’s language.
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    3.. All government business will be conducted in our language.
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    4. Non-residents will NOT have the right to vote no matter how long they are here.
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    5. Non-citizens will NEVER be able to hold political office.
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    6 Foreigners will not be a burden to the taxpayers. No welfare, no food stamps, no health care, or other government assistance programs. Any burden will be deported.
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    7. Foreigners can invest in this country, but it must be an amount at least equal to 40,000 times the daily minimum wage.
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    8. If foreigners come here and buy land… options will be restricted. Certain parcels including waterfront property are reserved for citizens naturally born into this country.
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    9.. Foreigners may have no protests; no demonstrations, no waving of a foreign flag, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our president or his policies. These will lead to deportation.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    10. If you do come to this country illegally, you will be actively hunted, when caught, sent to jail until your deportation can be arranged. All assets will be taken from you..
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    Harsh, you say?…….

    The above laws are current immigration laws of MEXICO
    Do unto others as they do unto you!!!!!

  7. 8

    Argos said,

    TO David T. Bigford said…………you should be happy about hte mexican laws otherwise there would be A LOT MORE ILLEGALS HERE!!!!USE YOUR BRAIN DUDE!!

  8. 9

    Mezza Miami said,

    Mezza Miami Catering Services – Downtown Miami’s best Healthy tasty food, also event catering services, from paellas for 10 or 1,000 guests! Mediterranean cuisine!

  9. 10

    Sherlock said,

    This is were I stand read below and check out Arpaio. Illegal’s must go back to the end of the line and wait there turn just like everyone else. If you cut in front of the line at the grocery store your gonna get you but kicked.

    Sheriff Joe Arpaio you are awsome – I can’t say enough – you need to have a nation wide yes or no vote for what you are doing – I live in Florida and will be moving to Texas soon – I hope that other’s will follow in you foot steps all the way – everything you do I agree with.
    Thank you

  10. 11

    kathy said,

    Businesses that hire illegals should be closed perminently!!! and the business owners should be forced to pay for every thing the illegals have stolen in taxes and lost wages that should have gone to American tax payers that are jobless!!!!

    America is based on revolution to uphold our constitution and belief system. We are the reason this country is great. We set up the system for prosperity. NO foreigner or foreign nation has done this, NONE at all!! WE the American people have done this through hard work.. We are immigrants BUT!!! We became citizens first before ANYTHING!!!!! And this sets us light years apart from the la raza and mecha scum that fight for illegal amnesty and the illegal ideology.

    Being an American Citizen is a privilege and an honor.. Assimilation into the American culture is a privilege and an honor.. Hanging on to a country that enslaved and burdened the people that came here is fools gold, purely stupid and moronic. Where ever this illegal ideology of la raza\mecha came from is totally non American and extremly racist against the white majority of this country. We are at war with these leaches. They work for cash, sell drugs on the side after work, steal, rob and rape, drive drunk and traffic other illegals to undermine and destroy this country.. All of this is FACTUAL!!!! The crimes against Americans by illegals is staggering.. 19,000 Americans are killed every year by illegal mexican invaders, check your FBI and Police reports, it doesn’t take much research.

    The hispanic caucus is at war with America as well. They do not care about America, they only care about illegal labor dollars that fill their coffers.. We should vote out all members of la raza in government and education to stop the poison and never allow them to hold any public office in this country PERIOD!!! If they have an illegal agenda they should be considered military enemies of the US and arrested immediately!! This means you Louis Gutierrez of Illinois!! You have turned the south side of chicago into a illegal\gang infested war zone.. Thanks for tanking my property values into the toilet.. You are a criminal and so is your father for the illegal ID scandal at back of the yards.. I don’t know how you got away with blaming a mexican gang for the ID scam but all of us that were on the ground in chicago at the time in the 80’s and 90’s know for a fact it was you and your father.

    You bastard!!!

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