by David Safier
Get ready. We're soon to witness an avalanche of news reports saying 100,000 Latinos have left Arizona since SB1070 passed.
Also be ready for the "See, it's working already!" comments from SB1070 supporters.
The first debunking I've seen of the 100,000 number comes from the Star's Brady McCombs in his post in the online Star feature, Border Boletín.
McCombs questions the relevance of the Mexican government report that 23,380 Mexicans returned from Arizona from June to September. It seems that number refers to people caught by the border patrol who were then flown back.
There's one big problem with using this [23,380] number in regard to estimating how many people have left Arizona due to SB 1070 — this is the number of illegal border crossers who took voluntary flights home to Mexico this summer in the 7th annual Interior Repatriation Program. These people were not living here, but caught by the Border Patrol trying to cross Arizona's stretch of U.S.-Mexico border.
If that number is in the mix, or if it's used as a starting point to estimate the total number of Latinos who have left Arizona, the 100,000 has been created from a misunderstood and misused bit of data.
Congrats to McCombs for catching the problem. I'm hoping the Star will publish his concerns and other media outlets will question whether the number means anything.
[NOTE: Arizona's economy has gone sour, especially in construction. If the study is worth anything, it would look at other states with heavy Latino populations — especially recent immigrants — to see if there is a significant change in that population. Compare the percentage change in other states to Arizona's, and you may be able to draw some conclusions about how many Latinos left because of SB1070.]
EMBARRASSED NOTE: In the original version of this post I misnamed Brady McCombs as "Brandy." For some reason, I have been reading his first name as "Brandy" since I started reading his articles. My only excuse is, I once had a student named Brandy Combs, and I guess I just see her name, not Brady's, every time I see his byline.
Humblest, embarrassed apologies to Brady. The error was completely unintentional. And thanks to Jim Nintzel for catching my mistake.