Many of the headlines in recent weeks have been dominated by opposition by many in the Republican Party to President Barack Obama's immigration reforms which are mainly aimed at helping the millions of undocumented Hispanic migrants in the US. Obama's reforms should mean that these migrants will more easily be able to integrate into US society.
In the last fifty years the Hispanic population in the US has grown from 3 million to 53 million. Despite the large numbers of undocumented migrants, included in these figures, many argue that Hispanic migration to the US has been a success. Simon Rosenberg, president of the pro-immigration group NDN/New Policy Institute, argues that we may now see a 'tipping point' where Hispanics are now able to gain socioeconomic status and acceptance by the general population. He raised a number of important points about Hispanic migration to the US:
- In 2014 the unemployment rate for Hispanic migrants in the US dropped from 8.4% to 6.5%. This is a reduction of 25% in only a single year.
- There has been a huge reduction in school drop-out rates for Hispanics; 13% last year, compared to around 35% in the mid-1990s.
- One third of all Hispanics with no health insurance were able to find insurance under Obama's healthcare reforms (Obamacare). The rate of Hispanics without insurance has fallen from 36% to 23%
- Millions of undocumented migrants will see economic gains following Obama's immigration reforms. Data from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, although still in its early days, suggests that those who have benefited from this program have seen significant increases in their income.
- Trade between the US and Mexico is now booming, with Mexico now the third largest trading partner with the US, and second largest export market. The improvement in the Mexican economy has resulted in a large reduction in the number of Mexicans entering the US illegally. There is less of an incentive to emigrate as Mexicans can more easily find employment in Mexico.
- A recent CBS News poll shows that 69% of the US population want the 11 million undocumented migrants to remain in the country.
Despite this many Republicans still want to restrict the Affordable Care Act, and repeal some of the recent reforms implemented by Obama. These policies would surely harm the Hispanic community.
Rosenberg argues that the recent wave of Hispanic immigration to the US is increasingly looking like a success. He says that Hispanic migration is 'a success for the immigrants themselves and the nation as a whole – a historic change that has made the State of our Union stronger'.