Saturday, April 5, 2008

Immigration in Arizona and Slough

From the Guardian and the LA Times are two very different stories about immigration: in the Times, Arizona is seeing success in keeping out illegal immigrants and the native-born population hasn't seemed to be suffering much from it; in the Guardian, the town of Slough has been booming amidst high levels of immigration. The places are in some ways similar – Arizona is along the border and sees many migrants from Mexico, and Slough is the most diverse borough in the UK outside of London.

But the similarities end there – in Arizona, the immigration that's causing concern is illegal and the immigrants are relatively low-skilled. In Slough, however, the immigrants have largely been legal ("Asians" [British for Pakistanis and Indians] and Poles after World War II, and more recently immigrants from Africa and newly-EUified Poland), and the government must provide all healthcare service for the immigrants. So while in America people go on and on about emergency rooms being filled up, in Britain, an influx of human beings clogs the entire medical system. And yet, the furor over illegal immigration is more often played out in stories about crime, whereas in the US it's about immigrants stealing jobs and clogging up schools and hospitals. According to the articles, both the economies of Slough and of Arizona are booming at the moment, but the initiatives in Arizona limiting immigration have just recently been put into effect, and the future will tell what impact they had on Arizona. Of course, if the economy goes south, it could just be part of a broader trend.

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