Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Illegal Immigration In California - A Study In Contradictions

Illegal Immigration In California - A Study In Contradictions
Call them what you will - unauthorized , illegal, or undocumented - the three million immigrants in California who either entered the U.S. illegally or overstayed their visas have an impact on the state's economy and a polarizing effect on its politics. We explore the costs of illegal immigration on business, government, and the children of those who are deported, and we look at why illegal immigrants continue to find their way north in spite of formidable obstacles.
Envision San Diego takes a closer look at illegal immigration, exploring why migrants take big risks to work in the U.S., what happens to the children of deported parents, and how this region benefits from -- and pays a price for -- its unauthorized migrant labor pool.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. We've been hearing quite a lot lately about illegal immigration as part of a national debate. The new law in Arizona that requires police to check the legal status of suspects is apparently widely popular across the country. But here in San Diego, migrant workers and the people and businesses who hire them are not abstract concepts. They are our neighbors. As an example of how closely the immigration issue affects lives in our community, a number of KPBS reporters have interviewed local officials, academics, politicians, legal residents, undocumented workers and their families. They've assembled some compelling stories that help explain the complex relationship people on both sides of the border have come to share. Their reports are part of the KPBS Envision series called "Crossing The Line: Border Stories." I’d like to introduce my guests, KPBS reporters Amy Isackson, Alison St John and Joanne Faryon. Good morning, ladies. Thank you for being here.

ALL: Good morning.

CAVANAUGH: Now let me start with you, if I may, Joanne. Why did Envision focus on immigration this month? It’s a very big topic and the TV special is just a half an hour. So I’m wondering how you managed to compress these ideas.

JOANNE FARYON (KPBS Reporter): Well, as you said in your introduction, of course, it’s the new immigration law in Arizona, everyone is talking about this issue and, again, as you said that these are really our neighbors. I mean, in terms of the immigration debate playing out, it plays out in our county. The stories, we tell four different stories in our half-hour documentary and I guess we wanted to tell people things maybe they didn’t know rather than things that we’ve already heard. And we also wanted to bust some myths. I think lots of people have questions about, well, are undocumented workers taking away jobs? What jobs are they taking away? Do they cost our county money? Why do people come here? So we wanted sort of to get that underneath layer of the story, sort of the motivation and the real facts, the real numbers behind some of these myths.

CAVANAUGH: So what did you concentrate on, Joanne?

FARYON: Well, I focused on the cost to our local and state budget of an undocumented population. In California, there’s about 3 million, excuse me, 3 million unauthorized immigrants and, again, that’s an estimate. We looked at various studies. I think the most recent was from Pew and it said 2.8 million unauthorized immigrants. That’s right here in California. So how does this cost us money? Because I think that’s also a sentiment that’s out there right now, is this costs taxpayers money. There was a report done by the Congressional Budget Office a couple of years back that surveyed all of the – or, a lot of the research out there that looked at the cost to our education system, healthcare and law enforcement, and said, okay, is this a cost or is this a benefit? And what it found is that at the local level, indeed, unauthorized immigrants cost local budgets money. For example, in our school system, we’re educating more kids and it costs more to educate kids if they’re – if English isn’t their first language. It’s about 20 to 40% more. There’s a cost. Research also shows that immigrants are less likely to have health insurance. By law, you can go to an emergency room and you must be treated. Our county does not operate a county hospital so it doesn’t incur those emergency cost visits but there are private hospitals in the county that do. So, for example, Scripps Health operates four hospitals in the county and they estimate that last year charitable care for unauthorized immigrants cost about $10 million. So there is – The final thing we looked at was law enforcement. A study done, it was done about 10 years ago, found that locally, in this county, we spend about $50 million for law enforcement directly related to unauthorized immigrants.

CAVANAUGH: So there are economic impacts. There are these negative economic impacts but there are positive ones as well.

FARYON: Absolutely. The story really takes a turn when you look at the federal level, the national level. Half of unauthorized immigrants pay taxes, they file income tax returns. Many pay sales taxes, property taxes. So there’s also a benefit. Undocumented residents aren’t eligible actually for most federal benefits, including social security. So they pay into these programs, they pay taxes but they really get very little back. So at the national level, there’s actually a net gain. And, again, that’s according to the research out there. One of the people I interviewed was John Skrentny and he is a sociologist at UCSD and he is also the director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, and he talked about the benefits and, really, he says, when you look at this story, you have to look at it not just in the short term but in the long run. And I just want to play you a clip from the story.

JOHN SKRENTNY (Professor of Sociology, University of California San Diego): So when a documented worker comes here, they have a low wage job, they have a kid or two, maybe three, in school, it’s local folks who are paying the taxes to educate those kids. However, over the lifetime of the migrant, the taxes that they pay will exceed the taxes that they’re taking in right now and that is because they come here as working age people. If they stay here a long time, that means that they have a long working-age life in the United States. It would be different if we were getting waves of undocumented elderly who would come here and impose immediately all sorts of costs on the healthcare system and they wouldn’t be working and they wouldn’t be generating much tax revenue or they wouldn’t be generating much wealth. That would be a different story.

CAVANAUGH: So if I understand this correctly, local governments can suffer economic impacts from illegal immigrants, however, the federal government in a sense gets a windfall but then again you found that the major cost also comes from the federal government and that is…?

FARYON: In terms of the…?

CAVANAUGH: Patrolling the border.

FARYON: Oh, yes, yes. Oh, yes, so that was a bit of a surprise and I have to tell you we went out – For the documentary, we went out to a ranch that really looks across at the hillside and that separates the border, Mexico and the U.S. And we were with one of our interns, Julien Pearce, a photographer, and we were driving around the area with a local rancher. And at the end of the day, he said, you know, I wonder what it costs to patrol this? Because just our little tour, we saw a number of Border Patrol cars, you see the fence and the lights, and he’s not from the United States and it sort of struck him as, wow, this must cost a lot of money. So of course we looked into it. What does it cost? Well, this year the federal government will spend $3.6 billion to patrol the border across the country, and that’s triple what they were spending 10 years ago.

CAVANAUGH: And this is a part of the whole, entire cost that usually isn’t factored in when people look at the pros and cons of how much this kind of immigration costs us.

FARYON: That’s right. That’s right. So this is on top of those other costs. I want to point out that we also interviewed Richard Barrera and he’s president of the San Diego Unified School District and he said, you know, a lot of people talk about financial costs but if we don’t provide these services, for example, educating kids, we all suffer. In the end I think we also have to ask the question, things might cost money but do we want them? Is this valuable? Is this something that we want to do? And sometimes things cost money that we want. He says, you know, we want to educate all kids. This changes the way of life for all of us when kids get educated. So even if it comes with a cost, it’s something that we want to do.

CAVANAUGH: That’s reporter Joanne Faryon. I want to move on to Alison St John, another reporter who took part in our Envision series on the border. The focus that you had was more local: Who wins and loses…

ST JOHN: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: …in our current system with our current immigration policies. Let’s start with the winners, Alison. What are the benefits from allowing undocumented workers in San Diego County?

ALISON ST JOHN (KPBS Reporter): Well, I thought this was an interesting focus because, as Joanne said, there are winners and losers but the question is who is…


ST JOHN: …who are getting these benefits and who are paying the costs. So among the winners are the employers in the particular industries where we have a lot of migrant and illegal migrant labor, the consumers who get lower prices because of the fact that the cost is less, the wealthy estate owners who can, you know, take advantage of illegal immigrant labor to maintain their estates. There are also, you know, global benefits because actually if you look bigger than just this country, it does benefit the global economy to actually have quite a bit of this kind of mobility. And then, as Joanne said, the federal government, I really was quite surprised in my research to find out how much of a beneficiary the federal government is of taxes from illegal immigrants. But if we just go to the employers, that first group, first, I spoke with Gordon Hanson, an economics professor at UCSD and he sort of laid out fairly clearly how it is that the employers benefit from illegal immigration. So let’s listen to what he has to say.

GORDON HANSON (Professor of Economics, University of California San Diego): There are clear economic benefits from illegal immigration and you can think of those as coming in three forms. First is that these are workers who are very flexible, so when there is job growth in northern San Diego County, illegal immigrants are going to come in and provide employers with access to workers. If there’s job growth in Imperial County, illegal immigrants are going to go there. That flexibility is something that you’re less likely to see among comparably skilled native workers. A second feature is that illegal immigrants are highly motivated. These are individuals who, most of whom have paid, two, three, four thousand dollars to get across the border to come to the U.S. and work. You can think of that as an investment in getting a U.S. job. And, third, the supply of these workers is something that fluctuates with the business cycle so what that means is when the San Diego economy is booming, we have more illegal immigrants around to help provide access to labor, and when the economy is tanking, those workers go elsewhere helping smooth out fluctuations in our economy.

ST JOHN: So that was one point that Professor Hanson made that, really, there’s this kind of very flexible work force that is able to really help the economy weather the sort of ups and downs. And the latest figures from the Department of Homeland Security do show very clearly that we had a high of 11.8 unauthorized immigrants in the country (sic) in 2007 right before the recession really started to hit and that’s dropped to 10.8, it’s dropped a million people in the last 2 years. And it had risen sort of fairly steadily from the year 2000, so it is a sort of organic flow, in-flow, of labor that rises to meet the economic demands and then falls again, too.

CAVANAUGH: One of the most dramatic statements in your piece, Alison, concerns undocumented workers and their impact, their effect, on agriculture.

ST JOHN: Well, especially in San Diego.


ST JOHN: I mean, I think in San Diego there are three sort of economic areas, agriculture, tourism and construction. And in agriculture, agriculture really could hardly exist in San Diego if it weren’t for immigrant labor, and illegal immigrant labor is a significant portion of that. There are 5,000 small family farms apparently in San Diego that wouldn’t survive without this labor. And also, I think San Diegans benefit because we see the – we live in an environment where even though we’re a large urban area, one of the largest, you know, sixth, seventh, largest urban area in the country, we’re also the twelfth largest agricultural economy and we have all this open space, 300,000 acres of open space, which is farmland. And if those farms couldn’t survive, we all know probably what would be likely to happen. There would be more rooftops. So it’s kind of keeping our environment much more pleasant and also allowing us to have a lot more homegrown produce, 50 local farmers markets around the region, so consumers benefit a lot from it.

CAVANAUGH: So we have local businesses that benefit, agriculture that benefits, what about the region’s wealthy families?

ST JOHN: So Gordon Hanson was making the point that as a middle class person, you know, many people I think go pick up a laborer and don’t necessarily know if they’re legal or not to help them with some yardwork. But for a middle class family, the taxes that they pay to support the services that benefit this population is probably more than the benefit they would get from hiring cheap labor. But if you have a very wealthy family, the net result is that the wealthy families are probably benefiting economically because even though they pay more taxes, they’re also really able to maintain their properties, get cleaning of their properties, childcare even. It really cuts down their expenses to maintain large estates, so wealthy families are beneficiaries overall.

CAVANAUGH: Who did you identify as the losers in our current policies regarding undocumented workers?

ST JOHN: Well, apart from the fact that the middle class families probably are, you could say, net losers financially and also the bottom 10%. They’re the ones who are competing for jobs.

CAVANAUGH: U.S. citizens.

ST JOHN: U.S. citizens, right. So someone who doesn’t have a high school diploma is probably at a disadvantage as a result of that, and some people feel like that’s not a big price to pay, other people say that’s a really important price and they don’t have a lot of political clout and it’s because of the fact they don’t that this is getting attention in Congress. And then, you know, the losers, as Joanne was saying, the states and the local counties are the ones that are bearing the brunt while the federal government is making $40 to $50 billion off those taxes, you know. Joanne said they were making – they’re paying $3.6 billion for enforcement but they’re getting so much more in the taxes that people are paying out of their paychecks. Even though they’re illegal, the government provides them with a taxpayer number.

CAVANAUGH: Now I suppose if everybody was losing in this equation, it wouldn’t be hard to fix our immigration policy but since there are winners, how does that complicate things, Alison?

ST JOHN: Well, I think there’s a lot of analysis as to whether it might be more important to start crafting a solution that would bring people in according to what they could contribute to the economy rather than right now I think the priority has more to do with your family relations, so there’s quite a bit of research to sort of see whether you could craft something that would be as effective as the current unregulated system, which it does provide this flexible workforce and I think it would be very difficult to craft a solution that would be as flexible, that’s what the research that I’ve read from the U.S. – University at – California University at Davis has concluded that it would be quite difficult to craft a policy that would be as flexible as the current sort of free flowing system but that, really, for the economy you should be looking more at the economic consequences of your visas rather than giving them out according to whether someone’s related to someone who’s already in the country.

CAVANAUGH: It’s interesting. We have to take a short break. When we return, we’ll continue our talk about the KPBS Envision series, “Crossing the Line: Border Stories.” My guests, Amy Isackson, Alison St John, Joanne Faryon and Ana Tintocalis. You’re listening to These Days on KPBS.

CAVANAUGH: Welcome back. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and I’m here with my guests, KPBS reporters Amy Isackson, Alison St John, Joanne Faryon and Ana Tintocalis, each of whom have given a report to the KPBS Envision series called “Crossing the Line: Border Stories.” And we move on now to Amy Isackson. She’s talking about how difficult it’s becoming for illegal immigrants to cross the border into California. And your Border Story, Amy, examines the conditions that drive generations of migrants across the border. You profiled one man and his native village. Tell us about them.

AMY ISACKSON (KPBS Reporter): So his name is Rogelio Mendez and he comes from a city called – a village called Tlacotepec in Oaxaca. And just by way of background, Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in all of Mexico. His village, the name of it literally means ‘in the middle of the mountains,’ which it is, in the Sierra Madres. And in 2007, a study that Wayne Cornelius from UCSD did, only half of the people there had finished elementary school, 13% were illiterate, half the village lives with dirt floors, only 4% of the land is irrigated so there’s not much support for farmers there so there’s little there. And it has a long history, this village, of immigration, starting back with a bracero program that they recruited migrants in Tlacotepec in Oaxaca, and so they came to the U.S. for better jobs. And Rogelio Mendez is the son of a bracero worker and he first crossed with his dad, his cousin and his older brother in 1974, and he said that even though it was scary, even though they got robbed, it was family connections that helped them cross the fence. It was – there was barely a fence to speak of at that point. And that he said it was more of a rite of passage kind of an adventure, that he was with his brother and his dad. They protected him and they landed in the fields in Northern California, and then he repeated that pattern for about a dozen years until 1986 when he earned his residency with the Immigration Reform Act. He eventually brought his family to San Diego and this is where he lives.

CAVANAUGH: He is a legal resident now of the United States.

ISACKSON: He is, and his children—he has four children—and I believe all of them are now U.S. citizens born here.

CAVANAUGH: Now how have – You relate this time when there was hardly a fence at all. How have the obstacles to crossing the border changed?

ISACKSON: Hearing Rogelio describe it, I mean, it’s almost unimaginable. He says that there were lines of barbed wire, there were some fence panels but most of them were – you could, you know, walk around them, go under them, even in some cases. Which, if you go down to the border as Joanne was describing, billions and billions of dollars of enforcement along our border, double fences, infrared cameras, motion sensors. The size of the Border Patrol, just since 2006, nationwide, has doubled. Here in San Diego in the mid-nineties, things – that’s when border enforcement here really began to change with Operation Gatekeeper. It pushed fences, more Border Patrol agents, all of the technology that we talked about, pushed people east into the mountains and into the deserts and that’s made it much more dangerous. Smugglers’ rates have increased because it’s more dangerous. It’s harder to get across, and here we can listen to Wayne Cornelius who has studied migration at UCSD, the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, and was in Rogelio Mendez’s village. Here, he talks about border enforcement’s effect on this circular migration pattern that we talked about.

WAYNE CORNELIUS (Professor of Sociology, University of California San Diego): We have made it significantly more dangerous to come and go across the border without papers and much more costly. So the main effect of border enforcement has been in its impact on the fees the people smugglers can charge. For people from Tlacotepec, they’re three or four times as high today as they were, say, in the mid-1990s. So once you get here, you really need to amortize that cost, which is $3,000 per head or more over a longer period of time. And the longer you stay here, the less likely it is that you will ever go back.

ISACKSON: Interestingly, though, hearing about these smugglers’ fees that have skyrocketed, knowing that people have died crossing the border and this build-up of enforcement, Cornelius says that the majority of the people that he has interviewed, you know, thousands of people throughout Mexico over the years in villages that send migrants across the border, the majority of them make it across the border on the first or second time. And just 5%, talking about the National Guard, which is coming to our border sometime in the next month or two, just 5% back in 2007, when there was a buildup of the National Guard then, said they were concerned at all about the National Guard and it was very interesting because most of them had the misconception that the National Guard was armed and ready to shoot. Also, another thing that I thought was telling about people’s motivation to go across the border, just how strong it is, is that 40% of the people that Cornelius interviewed knew someone who had died crossing the border but they still said that they were going to go anyway.

CAVANAUGH: And one of the deep reasons for that is because of the money that they can send back to the village in Oaxaca.

ISACKSON: Exactly. That money is important for people. Many people say that they want to build homes in Oaxaca and they use the money. They send it back. In these villages, you see homes that have cinder block and then they stop and there’re rebar coming out of the top and then there’s more cinder block put on. They also – people use the money to start small businesses, they use it to pay their kids’ schools, they use it for clothes, and remittances are actually – have been historically the number two source of income in Mexico, and in 2009 remittances took the largest dip that they had since they were started to be measured back in 1995. And last month it looked like they were going up but we’ll see.

CAVANAUGH: Are there many people from the same Oaxacan village here in San Diego?

ISACKSON: One of the principle places that people from this village of Tlacotepec settle are – is North County, Vista, Fallbrook, Oceanside. They started arriving in 1973 and here we can listen to Wayne Cornelius describe a party that happens that gives a sense of how many people are here.

CORNELIUS: The best illustration of that is the annual fiesta, which is held simultaneously on September 29th on both sides of the border. More people actually attended in the San Diego County version than come back to the town, over a thousand people attend the fiesta in north San Diego County every year. The last time it was held, they had a simulcast, images of what was happening in the town were beamed to a screen in the banquet hall in north San Diego County.

ISACKSON: Yet interestingly, Rogelio Mendez, the man we interviewed for the story says that he doesn’t want more people from his village to come here and he’s actually trying to create work, create this big water project to irrigate fields back in his village to keep people there and not come here to suffer what he and other people are suffering now with the poor economy in the U.S.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you. Thank you so much, Amy Isackson. And Ana Tintocalis is also joining us to talk about her contribution to the Border Stories report. Ana, you focused on what happens to the children when their parents are deported and you talked with a young girl in Vista named Amy. What’s her story?

ANA TINTOCALIS (KPBS Reporter): Well, Amy is – it’s kind of the worst case scenario when it comes to the children of undocumented parents and that’s because when Amy’s mother was arrested in Vista and deported, Amy was eight months pregnant and so it just – it made matters worse. And her entire world began to unravel. Her father was still here in Vista, however, you know, in talking about the possibility of losing your life crossing over again and the amount of money it costs, their family, their mom and dad decided that it would be better if they moved the entire family back to Mexico but for Amy, because she was pregnant and with her boyfriend, it complicated things. Altogether, they really made this agonizing decision to keep Amy here for the baby, for her, and immigration officials and social workers say that the majority of parents who do get back – deported decide to keep their kids here in the U.S. for financial reasons, economic reasons, just future opportunity reasons.

CAVANAUGH: How old is Amy?

TINTOCALIS: Amy’s 16 years old.


TINTOCALIS: So Amy quickly, you know, saw her world unravel. Her boyfriend and she separated and in a matter of months, she found herself homeless and she was couch surfing, going from friend’s house to friend’s house. And a report by the Urban Institute indicated the most common problem with these young people when their parents do get deported is unstable housing, unstable living situations and that exactly is what happened to Amy.

CAVANAUGH: So basically she just went home one day and mom wasn’t there?

TINTOCALIS: Right, she was at school and this is what happens to many teenagers and young people. I’ve spoken to many teachers who say their students come in crying and that because they get a call, they go back home after school and they realize that one of their parents has been arrested and they get the call from immigration officials saying your mom is detained and – or father is detained and we have to make arrangements for you to live with someone else because they’re getting deported.

CAVANAUGH: Now, in this particular case, Amy wanted to stay with her boyfriend at least for that time being. Why don’t more children, though, repatriate to Mexico if their parents are taken?

TINTOCALIS: Again, I think for the most part the parents want the kids to be here. They – the educational opportunities here are vastly greater than in Mexico, they have more of a likelihood to find a job, the quality of life is better for some families, so the parents want them to stay here and so they make the hard decision to do that.

CAVANAUGH: Now you met with Carmen Chavez. She’s an attorney who works to get parents legal status so they can stay with their minor children in the U.S. Tell us what she’s trying to do.

TINTOCALIS: Yeah, it’s a really fascinating law firm. It’s right here in San Diego and they help unaccompanied minors in the U.S. So they come across many of these cases, although many become – are undetected. But the director there, Carmen Chavez, she’s working to get parents’ status legalized when they come across a young person like this so they can reunite the family back in this country. But she says more often than not social workers find these young people and they enter the foster care system or they find a relative, a friend, someone from the church to hook them up with. But still others like Amy become homeless and some find themselves on the street, and this is what she had to say.

CARMEN CHAVEZ (Attorney/Legal Advocate for Children of Undocumented Parents): What about the kids that have not been identified? What about the child that becomes homeless? And there are cases where children end up in the streets of San Diego. Some of them are U.S. citizens. Some of them are foreign born but they just weren’t detained alongside the mother. So what happens to those kids is very tragic.

TINTOCALIS: Yeah, and I should mention many of them are U.S. born. You know, they’re not from Mexico and so they have a right to stay here. That’s the other reason why they tend to stay here and the families go back to Mexico. And I should say researchers noted that there’s at least 100,000 parents living and working in the U.S. illegally that have been detained or deported over the past decade, often in workplace raids and they’ve left behind thousands of children. Research shows today there are an estimated 5.5 million children with parents who are in the country illegally.

CAVANAUGH: So there was no provision made when this policy went into effect, to basically take people from workplaces and detain them to be repatriated back to Mexico, for the children they might leave behind.

TINTOCALIS: Right, well, and when I talked to immigration officials, they say they’re trying to be more sensitive to the situation because more and more they’re coming across families with young kids and so they’re trying to – what I heard is they’re trying to give them leeway time so it’s time to figure out what to do with the kids. They give them the option to take them with them to Mexico. So they’re trying to give them this grace period to figure things out so the kids aren’t left high and dry.

CAVANAUGH: What do our local politicians say about efforts to try to mitigate this policy a little bit so that it’s more sensitive to the children?

TINTOCALIS: Right, well, so I spoke with San Diego Congressman Brian Bilbray who’s the chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus, and I asked him about this situation and how we talk so much about the adults in the center of the immigration debate, you know, why don’t we think about the protections for children. And he said, well, you know, those children should be sent back to Mexico with their families and that’s what he thinks the policy should somehow incorporate. This is what he had to say.

BRIAN BILBRAY (Congressman, United States House of Representatives): And I think this is where people are trying to use their children in a manipulation game of saying, well, if you have children now you should be exempted from this law. I think what people ought to be up front about is that the same people that are claiming that there should be a carve-out for those children are those that do not believe our immigration laws should be enforced at all and they are just using the kids as a pawn in this game.

TINTOCALIS: So, I mean, that’s definitely one point of view on this immigration debate, that the families are using – and advocates are using the kids to somehow create some type of open for amnesty.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, we’ve heard that in a lot of places before. Let me go back to you, Joanne, and ask you, illegal immigration has been such a longstanding issue in California and I’m wondering, did any of your experts speculate as to why it’s become such a hot political issue now, not only with the Arizona law that we were talking about but we recently saw it in the gubernatorial primary, one politician talking about illegal immigration, trying to outdo the other one. Why now?

FARYON: Well, Richard Barrera with the San Diego Unified School District said this, he said, look, bad economic times, we have a lot of complex economic problems out there. People are unemployed. And we look for easy solutions. And there are politicians out there offering up sort of illegal immigration as that thing, that phenomenon, that’s creating these problems. And you only have to go to our website, and read some of the comments below some of the stories we began posting. And we hear that from people, there are comments on there now that say, you know, I can’t get a job or my relative can’t get a job because illegal immigrants are taking these jobs. So there’s definitely that sentiment out there. We see it, you know, throughout history. When we have bad economic times, we look to find usually a group of people to say, you know, who or what can we blame this on, and Richard Barrera said, you know, I get e-mails like this all the time from parents saying our classrooms are overcrowded because of illegal immigration. And, again, whether that’s true or not, you know, it’s that sort of scapegoating.

CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you all, Amy Isackson, Alison St John, Joanne Faryon, Ana Tintocalis. I want to ask everyone, be sure to tune in to Morning Edition tomorrow because we’ll be continuing our Envision series, “Crossing the Line: Border Stories.” And the TV documentary airs Monday at 10:00 p.m. on KPBS-TV. You can go to to see those comments or to make some of your own and for more information on this series. Thank you all.

TINTOCALIS: Thank you.


ST JOHN: Thanks, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Now coming up, a plan to keep more felons in county jail, that discussion as These Days continues here on KPBS.