A couple of times before, at least, I have discussed the fact that we are seeing an immigrant exodus from the United States. Though there are still quite a few Brazilian immigrants around where I live, for example, the numbers seem to be thinning noticeably. My wife and I know people who have been picked up by immigration authorities. Some have been deported, others have cases rolling through the immigration courts. American citizen children have been packed off with their families to their parents’ home countries where they rarely speak the local language well. They will adapt, of course, but you can be sure that many of them will be returning when they turn 18.
A recent study by an anti-immigration think tank suggests that tougher law enforcement is what has removed so many people from the United States. This makes sense. People don’t like to fear a knock in the middle of the night and generally don’t want the anxiety of driving without a license (because federally-backed ID requirements have made state driver licenses nearly impossible to obtain for undocumented residents). Some have been deported, but many more have left willingly.
The study mentioned above suggests it was law enforcement, not the failing economy, that pushed immigrants out. That may be, but I do know that in Brazil the economy is now improving and their currency is currently very strong in comparison to the dollar. Could it be that all the returning workers, some with fresh skills and many with a nest-egg, are re-invigorating their home country’s economy? I don’t know, but I do know that in tough economic times, the last thing an economy needs is a shrinking market and a diminished entrepreneurial work force.
My prayer is that the Western world in general, and the United States in particular, develops ways to encourage legal immigration as well as economic and cultural exchange. Xenophobia, such as I have seen come from certain sectors of our society, is fear-based and ultimately ungodly. Hospitality is the only healthy way forward. As for me and my house, we will continue to attempt to serve the nations, especially but not exclusively Brazilians, who have found their way to this nation’s shores.