Saturday, May 15, 2010

Does rural-urban difference explain different attitudes toward immigration?

Randal Archibold reported in the New York Times a few days ago on the differing approaches of New Mexico and Arizona to the issue of immigration. The article is headlined, "Side by Side, but Divided over Immigration," and in it Archibold discusses a number of possible reasons why Arizona's policies are so hostile to immigrants, while New Mexico seeks to integrate (and tax) them. One of those reasons happens to relate to the degree of development along the states' respective borders with Mexico. Here's the relevant excerpt:
The flow of drugs and illegal immigrants over the sparsely populated, remote border here [in New Mexico], moreover, pales compared with that in Arizona, whose border, dotted with towns and roads facilitating trafficking, registers the highest number of drug seizures and arrests of illegal crossers of any
state.
* * *
But New Mexico’s patience could be tested, and some fear that the Arizona law will push more illegal immigrants into the state, though they typically go where the most jobs are found. 

Steve Wilmeth, a cattle rancher near Las Cruces, 30 miles north of the border, said he had grown frustrated with finding illegal immigrants crossing his property and recalled a harrowing confrontation a couple of years ago with a group of 20 near a watering tank.
* * *
Violence on the Mexican side of the border — one of the bloodiest cities, Ciudad Ju├írez, is an hour’s drive from Las Cruces — has heightened anxiety.
As a related matter, I wrote recently about the death of an Arizona rancher, presumably at the hands of an immigrant.