A NY Times article on emerging patterns of migration shows that illegal immigrants are more likely to stay, in part because of better wages to be found farther from the border in the northeast, but more importantly, because security and vigilantism makes seasonal migration expensive and more dangerous.

Returning Mexicans, researchers say, have generally been divided between “sojourners,” those with temporary or seasonal jobs in the United States who cross once or more a year, and “settlers,” those who move to the United States for an extended period but at some point choose to return home.

“The Mexican migration was always round trip,” said Jorge Durand, director of the Mexican Migration Project at the University of Guadalajara, a research program in conjunction with the Office of Population Research at Princeton. “It was a migration of workers, not immigrants.”

But several factors are causing more illegal immigrants to stay in the United States. Increasingly, immigrants are finding jobs away from the agricultural sector, meaning they have more stable employment that is not subject to seasonal ups and downs, researchers say. More immigrants have also moved to destinations beyond the border states of the Southwest, making the journey back home longer, more expensive and less convenient.

Most important, some researchers say, increased vigilance along the border has led to higher costs and risks associated with crossing back into the United States, disrupting what had been the traditional circular movement of the migrants. Border enforcement began to tighten in the mid-1980s, but has become much more vigorous since the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Having run the gantlet of enforcement resources at the border, migrants grew reluctant to repeat the experience and hunkered down to stay, causing rates of return migration to fall sharply,” said Douglas S. Massey, a sociologist who directs the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton.

Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, said that “the primary effect of hardening the border has been one of locking people in.”


One (among many) of the problems I have with Minutemen-like movements is that their claim the enforce American law just covers for breaking the law.  Not just passive watchers over the landscape with binoculars and cellphones in hand, they come with guns, prepared to confront and threaten those who dare cross the border.  The NY Times looks at one of these vigilantes, Roger Barnett, and the effort to bring him to justice.

Immigrant rights groups have filed lawsuits, accusing him of harassing and unlawfully imprisoning people he has confronted on his ranch near Douglas. One suit pending in federal court accuses him, his wife and his brother of pointing guns at 16 illegal immigrants they intercepted, threatening them with dogs and kicking one woman in the group.

Another suit, accusing Mr. Barnett of threatening two Mexican-American hunters and three young children with an assault rifle and insulting them with racial epithets, ended Wednesday night in Bisbee with a jury awarding the hunters $98,750 in damages. …
A few years ago, however, the Border Action Network and its allied groups began collecting testimony from illegal immigrants and others who had had confrontations with Mr. Barnett.

They included the hunters, who sued Mr. Barnett for unlawful detention, emotional distress and other claims, and sought at least $200,000. Ronald Morales; his father, Arturo; Ronald Morales’s two daughters, ages 9 and 11; and an 11-year-old friend said Mr. Barnett, his brother Donald and his wife, Barbara, confronted them Oct. 30, 2004.

Ronald Morales testified that Mr. Barnett used expletives and ethnically derogatory remarks as he sought to kick them off state-owned property he leases. Then, Mr. Morales said, Mr. Barnett pulled an AR-15 assault rifle from his truck and pointed it at them as they drove off, traumatizing the girls.

Barnett’s own mentality betrays  any recourse to claim to act in the name of the law:

For your children, for our future, that’s why we need to stop them.  If we don’t step in for your children, I don’t know who is expected to step in.

For our children–this has overtones of eugenics and racial science.  He is claiming that illegal immigration will create an inheritable problem.  It is a problem that, as he sees it, is worth controvening law, even morality, in order to stop.