Latinos Leave Arizona in Droves

If the understated intention of Arizona's new immigration law was to maintain the state's white majority, it appears to be working.

By Jamilah King Jun 09, 2010

If the understated intention of Arizona’s new immigration law was to maintain the state’s white majority, it appears to be working. New figures suggest that documented and undocumented Latinos are leaving the state amid fears of being racially profiled, detained, deported or worse as the state gears up to implement the new law, known as SB 1070, in July.

RaceWire contributor Michelle Chen already wrote about Arizona’s disappearing school children. According to a story in USA Today, within a month of the law’s passage the parents of 70 students in the mostly Latino Balsz Elementary School District yanked their kids out of school.

The state’s last Latino exodus was in 2007 and 2008. After lawmakers increased penalties for businesses that hired undocumented workers, nearly 100,000 left the state.

This time around, fear seems to be gripping Latinos regardless of their status and, as predicted shortly after the bill passed into law, many are packing their bags. Juan Carlos Cruz, an undocumented immigrant, told USA Today that he’s planning to move his family to California or Virginia. "If I were alone, I’d try to stay. But I have a family, and I have to find a place where we can live with more freedom," said Cruz, who hopes to move July 4 to blend in with holiday weekend traffic. "This is getting too hard."

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s office certainly isn’t shedding any tears. Her spokesman Paul Sensemen told reporters, "If that means that fewer people are breaking the law, that is absolutely an accomplishment."

Even though Latinos currently make up roughly 30 percent of Arizona’s population, SB 1070’s passage back in April made the difficult task of getting an accurate Census count even harder.