Richard Baron, Co-founder and Chairman and CEO with McCormack Baron Salazar based in St. Louis, has been developing innovative, mixed-income, mixed-use housing projects in inner cities all over the United States. He and his firm are not afraid to tackle tough neighborhoods with depressing histories. From what I saw, Baron has a great track record that combines risk-taking with sound business and development practices.
I loved what he shared with us in words and photos. But, this morning I am remembering one of his "throw away" lines related, not to development, but to immigration.
"And speaking of plans to secure our southern border, who the $#&*@ is gonna build the wall?"
Good question, don't you think?
Consider these facts about immigration:
- Of 31 million total immigrants, 12 million are undocumented with 1.4 to 1.6 million in Texas (5% of the state's population)
- 43% of Dallas area Hispanics are immigrants and only 19% are citizens
- Dallas Federal Reserve reports that around 30% of U. S. immigrants are undocumented
- DFW International reports that in Dallas almost 1/2 of the "foreign born" residents have no documentation or 10% of the city's population
- 50% of these immigrants live in poverty and have no health insurance
- Dallas County gained 175,000 Hispanic residents between 2000-2005
- Exit polls during last November's General Election reported that 2/3 of voters listed immigration concerns as "extremely" or "very important" and 50% said undocumented residents should be given a chance to gain legal status, while 1/3 were in favor of deportation
- Entering the country without proper documentation is a civil matter, not a misdemeanor or felony
- In 2006, approximately 70% of workers sent $24 billion home to Mexico--an annual increase of 25%, representing 2.5% of Mexico's GDP
- Every 10% increase in remittances sent home to Mexico result in a 3.5% reduction in Mexican poverty levels
- In Texas, Latin American immigrants contribute $52.8 billion to local economies
- Undocumented Texas workers contributed $1.58 billion to state coffers in 2005
- If all undocumented Texas workers suddenly disappeared, the gross state product would drop by $17.7 billion in revenues
- Jobs follow market needs: a skilled carpenter in Mexico earns $125 per month; the same laborer can earn $2,299 in the U. S. where food costs are also lower
- Sixty families in Mexico control 40% of the wealth
- Unemployment rates in Dallas-Ft Worth stand at about 5%--the result is a labor shortage
- 70% of the Dallas construction workforce is immigrant and largely undocumented
- Texas Workforce Commission reports that Texas will need almost 125,000 additional restaurant workers and over 35,000 truck drivers
- A language other than English is spoken in 43.9% of Dallas homes, as compared to 19.4% nationally
- High School graduation rates for Hispanics in the DISD is 32%--graduation rates for undocumented are even lower
- Over 2/3 of all DISD students are Hispanic
- The City of McKinney spent $138,000 to build a labor center for immigrant day laborers to "catch out" for work in an orderly manner--Plano and Garland also have such centers supported by public funds
- Parkland Health and Hospital System, the public hospital in Dallas County, wrote off $7.6 million in unpaid medical bills from patients residing in adjoining Collin County which has no public hospital
(D Magazine, "Mexican Invasion," by Rod Davis, February 2007, pages 42ff)
If you are really interested in the whole question of American jobs taken by immigrants, you may want to take a look at the article in yesterday's Dallas Morning News by Daniel Gross ("Reeled In," Sunday, February 4, 2007, Points section):