Life as an undocumented immigrant
What happens to undocumented immigrants after the passage of anti-immigrant state laws such as Arizona’s S.B. 1070 and Alabama’s H.B. 56 or restrictive local ordinances such as those in Prince William County, Virginia, or Freemont, Nebraska? What is life like for unauthorized immigrants in these areas, and how do they mitigate the harshness of these ordinances? On the flip side, what happens to the larger communities—documented and not, immigrant and not—and how do these laws impact the ability of law enforcement professionals to keep our communities safe?
Many studies have focused on the fiscal and economic ramifications of anti-immigrant legislation, but little work has been done on the harmful effects these laws have on everyday life in our communities. That is the focus of this report.
This report presents one of the first studies of immigrants’ responses to local restrictions and enforcement. We demonstrate that exclusionary policies and ramped-up federal enforcement inhibit immigrant incorporation into their communities. Immigrants react to legal threats and hostile reception by going underground: They hold negative perceptions of local law enforcement, associate routine activities such as driving and walking with anxiety and the risk of deportation, and develop strategies of avoidance and fitting in to mitigate the discovery of their unauthorized status.
These avoidance strategies can lead to several problems for larger communities:
-Immigrants who do not interact with police limit the efficacy of policing measures.
-Immigrants who are reluctant to accompany their children to school are a barrier to effective education.
-Immigrants who are afraid to leave their houses foster less vibrant and civically unengaged neighborhoods for immigrants and nonimmigrants alike.
Read the full story at Center for American Progress