Latino Immigration in Nevada is Not What It Appears
The White House ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations has temporarily taken attention away from Latino immigrants to America.
Nevada's Dean Heller remains concerned about Donald Trump's executive order banning travel.
The Republican senator shared his concerns that the president's order is overly broad and is not the way to strengthen national security.
Heller is one of a handful of GOP legislators denouncing the travel ban. Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also criticized the executive order.
The Trump White House would have people believe that Latino immigrants bring drugs and crime into America and are rapists. Millions of Trump supporters accept that broad-brush characterization without thought. Sixteen percent of Americans consider Hispanic immigrants are "undesirables" according to an ABC News poll.
Comments by Trump and those who parrot him have pushed a volatile dispute about immigration policy. It's a discussion proving particularly pressing in Nevada where comments about immigrants have struck a nerve among many in the state's Latino community.
What is the truth? It's not Trump's characterization. Immigrants aren't any more inclined to commit crimes than U.S. citizens.
Latin American immigration helped stoke the need for labor during the construction rush in the early 2000s. Immigration rose until the recession hit when residential construction collapsed and immigration slipped. The number of undocumented immigrants in Nevada shrunk in just two years -- 2008 through 2010 -- by 40,000.
Replicated studies show immigration lead to a criminal decrease.
"If you take the president literally, you don't want to see people with no criminal convictions deported," said Taylor Barton, owner of 24/7 Bail Bond in Las Vegas.
While data indicates the share of criminals in the population deported has increased, the increase is not attributed to more crime committed by immigrants, but to immigration enforcement priorities.
Experts claim this has led to a major misperception about immigrants: immigrants increase crime in the neighborhoods where they live.
A current statement from the American Immigration Councilindicates that immigrants, both undocumented and documented, are less apt to perpetrate serious crimes and be behind bars than those born in America. While the share of immigrants in the American population increased from 1990 to 2013, FBI records show violent crime rates and property crime fell by almost 50%.
Set aside the rant coming out of Washington and real data begins to appear.
Substantial Latino Population
Nevada's Latino population is growing. Over 26% of Nevada's 2.8 million residents are Latino in contrast to Florida where Mexicans make up 15% of the Latino population. Mexicans comprise over 75% of the Latino population in Nevada.
The Latino population has grown over the last ten years — and grown a lot. In 2000, the Latino population was just shy of 250%. Now it's over 26^.
Extra Congressional Seat
Latinos make up 46% of Nevada's overall growth in population. The growth helped the state collect an extra congressional seat following the 2010 census.
More than 225,000 eligible Hispanic voters live in Nevada — 14% of all the state's eligible voters.
Latino voting trends favor Democrats, and the feels grew between 2004 and 2008 when John Kerry won the Latino vote with 60%.
The Latino "firewall" included Nevada in the 2010 elections. Political analysts agree it was the Latino vote which made the difference for Harry Reid and the Senate. Reid took home 90% of the Latino vote against Republican Sharron Angle who took a hard anti-immigrant line in the election.
Immigration reform received strong support across demographic lines: Two-thirds of all voters said undocumented immigrants should be allowed to remain in the nation and become citizens.
Nevada's immigrants contributed over $1.5 billion in state and local tax revenue. Even without a state income tax, unauthorized immigrants put $133 million into Nevada through state and local taxes in 2010.