Study: Latinos tend to avoid states with 'hostile' immigration laws
A study published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers found that Latinos today are less likely to move to states that have laws and policies that are “hostile” towards undocumented immigrants.
The study, called “State-scale Immigration Enforcement and Latino Interstate Migration in the United States,” investigated the perception of Latinos towards state and local laws which made it difficult for undocumented immigrants to work and live. Researchers compared Latinos’ current perception of these states to those during the 1990s.
Though an aversion to these “hostile states” might seem like a no-brainer, what is significant is that the study found that both non-citizen and naturalized Latinos tended to avoid these states more now than two decades ago.
“Fear of discrimination and the blending of Latinos with different legal status within families might account for this broad Latino migration response,” researchers said.
According to NBCNews, “hostile states” are those with laws that have requirements for immigration status verification for things like employment and driver’s licenses. NBC also cited Arizona’s SB 1070 bill which asked residents to show immigration papers should law enforcement demanded it.
Co-authors Mark Ellis and Richard Wright, professors at the University of Washington and Dartmouth College respectively, used data from the 2000 U.S. Census and 2005-2010 American Community Survey to compare migration patterns of Latinos in the U.S. They separated the country into two groups: The aforementioned “hostile states” and “non-hostile states.”
Researchers considered Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia as “hostile states.”
They found that in the time period between 1995 and 2000 “hostile states” who had yet enacted the laws experienced net population gains of naturalized and non-citizen Latinos higher than U.S.-born Whites, for example. Once these states began enacting “hostile” laws (between 2008-2010), the researchers found that the “redistribution effect of non-citizen Latinos to ‘hostile states’ came to a halt.”
"Like almost all immigration legislation, these state-scale statutes have had intended and unintended consequences,” said Wright in a press release. “They have reduced the attractiveness of these states to the unauthorized, but they have had a serious dampening effect on the migration patterns of Latinos with rights associated with citizenship.”
The authors concluded that these laws affect the migration of all Latinos because even those with citizenship status want to avoid living in areas with perceived elevated levels of discrimination, especially if they are a part of a family with mixed-legal status.