Major developments regarding illegal immigrants, first half of 2006

Here is my wrap up for the past six months. in short, life has become more uncertain for both illegal workers and their employers. And, Hispanics may have become more politicially mobilized.
First, the number of illegal workers may have grown from the outset of about 7.5 million, not so much because of new in-migration but because the normal level of out-migration by illegals may well have dropped to a trickle because it probably seen more riskier to try to get back into the U.S.
Second, the Senate and House of Representatives are deadlocked over an immigration bill. Because the dispute involves Republications as much as Democrats it seems to me very unlikely that any substantive legislation will pass this year.
This deadlock when combined with fire-fanning at the level of state politics creates more uncertainty among American companies who use illegal workers as employees or outsourced workers. There was a chance that they would be hit by RICO suits but that threat seems to have passed or at least been moderated by Supreme Court action of the Mohawk case (see my posting). they still can be hit by state and federal enforcement action.
The Katrina cleanup has been the largest aggregate new employer of illegal workers — some 5,000, but the estimate of a Tulane researcher. Two studies suggest that most if not substantially all of work injuries by these workers have been turfed out of the Louisiana workers comp system (see my postings for Katrina).
Another major development was the series of rallies of Hispanics in May to make their voices heard, their faces visible. This may well have been a turning point in which Hispanic households become more politically active, supporting politicians who seek a guest worker solution to the country’s illegal immigration mess.

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