Michael Barone

You can see that if you look at the statistics on mortgage foreclosures, starting with the housing bust in 2007. More than half were in the four "sand states" -- California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida -- and within them, as the Pew Hispanic Center noted in a 2009 report, in areas with large numbers of Latino immigrants.

These were places where subprime mortgages were granted, with encouragement from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to many Latinos unqualified by traditional credit standards.

These new homeowners, many of them construction workers, dreamed of gaining hundreds of thousands of dollars as housing prices inevitably rose. Instead, they collapsed. My estimate is that one-third of those foreclosed on in these years were Latinos. Their dreams turned into nightmares.

We can see further evidence in last month's Pew Research report on the recent decline in U.S. birthrates. The biggest drop was among Mexican-born women, from 455,000 births in 2007 to 346,000 in 2010.

That's a 24 percent decline, compared with only a 6 percent decline among U.S.-born women. It's comparable to the sharp decline in U.S. birthrates in the Depression years from 1929 to 1933.

Beneath the cold statistics on foreclosures and births is a human story, a story of people whose personal lives have been deeply affected by economic developments over which they had no control and of which they had no warning.

Those events have prompted many to resort to, in Mitt Romney's chilly words, "self-deportation." And their experiences are likely to have reverberations for many others who have learned of their plight.

Surges of migration that have shaped the country sometimes end abruptly. The surge of Southern blacks to Northern cities lasted from 1940 to 1965 -- one generation. The surge of Mexicans into the U.S. lasted from 1982 to 2007 -- one generation.

The northward surge of American blacks has never resumed. I don't think the northward surge of Mexicans will, either.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM