New Report Debunks Myth of Self-Deportation

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Faced with harsh anti-immigrant state laws, most unauthorized immigrants do not return to their home countries. That is the conclusion of a new report from the Center for American Progress, entitled Staying Put but Still in the Shadows. The report finds that unauthorized immigrants react to anti-immigrant laws by moving to a different county or state, or by staying right where they are and isolating themselves even further from the larger society.

Based on the experiences of immigrants in Oklahoma City, and in more recent cases such as Arizona after S.B. 1070, the study found that:

* “Most unauthorized immigrants make the decision to stay in the country despite attempts to drive them out.”

* “At best, anti-immigrant laws simply drive immigrants from one area to another…rather than from the country. At worst, they further isolate immigrants from the communities they live in and from local law enforcement, while driving families deeper into the shadows.”

There are three principal reasons that unauthorized immigrants don’t leave the country:

* “Most undocumented immigrants have been in the country for 10 years or more, and the majority live in family units with children, meaning that they are well settled into American life.”

* The financial cost of a return trip to the United States is too high.

* The “stark lack of opportunities in the migrants’ home countries—which pushed them to enter the United States outside of legal status in the first place—have not gone away, leaving them with little reason to believe that life would be better there than in the United States.”

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