Once again, the New York Times is expecting American taxpayers to care not only about the plight of illegal immigrants, but on the hardship imposed on their families back in Latin America because of the fitful U.S. crackdown on illegal immigration. A front-page story on Thursday by Julia Preston blared "Fewer Latino Immigrants Send Money Home." How did the paper find out? From a poll -- a poll from a Hillary Clinton strategist on Latino issues -- a fact Preston doesn't find fit to mention.
More than three million Latin American immigrants in the United States, responding to the economic downturn and new uncertainties about their future, have stopped sending money home to their families in the last two years, according to a survey released on Wednesday by the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington.Only 50 percent of some 18.9 million Latino immigrants in this country now send money regularly to relatives in their home countries, compared with 73 percent two years ago, the survey found.The drop in the number of people sending remittances, as the money transfers are known, is a sign of pressures on Latino immigrants as a result of the slump in the low-wage job market and of the Bush administration's crackdown on illegal immigration, the survey shows. Of the immigrants interviewed, 47 percent said they did not have legal status. The others were American citizens and legal immigrants. ...Latino immigrants said they stopped sending money to their families because life is becoming more difficult for them here. Of those interviewed, 81 percent said it was harder to find a good-paying job. Almost 40 percent said they were earning less this year. The largest group of immigrants in the survey, 18 percent, worked in construction, which has been especially hard hit in the slowdown.A large majority of the Latino immigrants in the survey -- whether or not they were illegal -- said they experienced increasing hostility as a result of federal and state efforts to curb illegal immigration and punish employers who hire unauthorized immigrant workers. In the survey, 61 percent of Latinos who were American citizens and 66 percent of those who were legal immigrants said that discrimination had become a major problem for them.As a result of the difficulties, the numbers of immigrants who said they were considering going back to live in their home countries increased notably. Among immigrants who have been here less than five years, 49 percent said they were thinking of returning home, while only 41 percent said they planned to remain in the United States. Over all, just under one-third of the immigrants said they were thinking of leaving this country.
One of the poll's leading questions, highlighted in a Times graphic:
The anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States is making it more difficult to send money to my family.
Huh? And here's a familiar face:
But Latino immigrant workers who participated in focus groups as part of the survey said they were not ready to leave the United States quite yet, said Sergio Bendixen, the Miami-based pollster who conducted the survey. Instead of going home, the immigrants said they were taking jobs at lower wages or sometimes working two jobs to try to maintain their income, he said. "These are resourceful people who will do whatever job is available," Mr. Bendixen said. "The major dynamic that is holding them back from sending money is fear. They don't know whether they won't be able to get a job anymore."
What Preston doesn't mention; Bendixen is a Democrat pollster on Hispanic issues for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Preston has even used him before, back in an August 2007 story on the very same kind of poll, also without noting his Democratic affiliation.And then there's this irony that sabotages the story: turns out that the total remittances to Latin America have actually increased since 2006, from $45.4 billion to $45.9 billion, because those who are still sending money home are doing it more frequently and in bigger chunks.