Illegal Aliens flee Arizona ahead of immigration law
By Alan Gomez, USA TODAY http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-06-08-immigration_N.htm
Arizona's tough new immigration enforcement law is fueling an exodus of Hispanics from the state seven weeks before it goes into effect, according to officials and residents in the state.
Though no one has precise figures, reports from school officials, businesses and individuals indicate worried Hispanics - both legal and illegal - are leaving the state in anticipation of the law, which will go into effect July 29.
Schools in Hispanic areas report unusual drops in enrollment. The Balsz Elementary School District is 75% Hispanic, and within a month of the law's passage, the parents of 70 students pulled them out of school, said District Superintendent Jeffrey Smith. The district lost seven students over the same one-month period last year, and parents tell Smith the Arizona law is the reason for leaving.
"They're leaving to another state where they feel more welcome," he said.
About 100,000 illegal immigrants left Arizona after the state passed a law in 2007 that enhanced penalties on businesses that hired them, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Some early signs suggest another exodus.
"(Brewer) signed the law, and everything fell apart," Castillo said. "It's devastating."
Jorge Vargas plans to move to New York City because his air-conditioning business relies mostly on Hispanics. "My business is completely dead," he said.
"If I were alone, I'd try to stay. But I have a family, and I have to find a place where we can live with more freedom," said Cruz, who hopes to move July 4 to blend in with holiday weekend traffic. "This is getting too hard."
Paul Senseman, a spokesman for Brewer, said it's difficult to gauge how many people are leaving because of the law, but he said he hears similar reports of people leaving the state.
"If that means that fewer people are breaking the law, that is absolutely an accomplishment," he said.