By McKay Coppins
As the U.S. economy continues to flounder, would-be illegal immigrants south of the border are rethinking their trips north, according to a recent study by the Migration Policy Institute.
The study showed a decline in illegal immigration to the U.S. since the current recession began at the end of 2007.
“There just aren”t enough jobs out there,” said Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, an organization that advocates Hispanic rights.
With unemployment on the rise in all 50 states, Yapias said manual labor jobs usually done by Hispanic immigrants are not available anymore.
The amount of money sent by immigrants back to their families in Mexico decreased for the first time ever in 2008, according to the Central Bank of Mexico.
News like this is causing many families who had considered emigrating to stay in their native countries to search for work at home.
The employment situation has become so bad, Yapias said, that many immigrants already in the U.S. are leaving the country in hopes of finding more lucrative work.
Some Latinos are delaying plans to return home, hoping that newly elected President Barack Obama will make good on his promise to improve the economy, he said.
“Those who are staying here are doing so because of the new congress and new president,” Yapias said. “They”re trying to tough it out.”
Mel Flores, pastor at Centro Cristiano, a Spanish-speaking church in Salt Lake City, said many families in his congregation are suffering because of the recession. He said one family had recently emigrated from Mexico but after a few months without a steady job, they returned home.
“I can”t tell them what to do in that situation; they came to this country for a better life,” Flores said. “I try to encourage them to use the few resources they have wisely and put their faith in God.”