Michael Barone

The folks at the Pew Hispanic Center have concluded, I think with some reluctance, that net migration from Mexico to the United States fell to around zero in the recession year 2007. There may have been more reverse migration than inward migration since then.

But "self-deportation" and "reverse migration" are cold, abstract terms. Politicians (and pundits) need to look beneath unfeeling statistics for the effect on the lives of actual human beings.

And when you look at the RealtyTrac numbers of foreclosures in the peak years of 2007 and 2010, you find that a majority were in four states -- California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida.

When you look at the counties with high foreclosure rates, you're looking at the Central Valley, the Inland Empire east of Los Angeles, metro Las Vegas and metro Phoenix.

You're looking at tens of thousands of Hispanic homebuyers who were granted mortgages with little or no money down and that proved to be far beyond their capacity to service when housing crashed and the construction industry shut down.

Many such mortgages were issued because of government policy favoring minority homeownership and because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed this policy hard.

This was bad public policy that shattered people's dreams. Homebuyers had assumed they would amass wealth through supposedly inevitable housing price gains.

Instead, many -- and others who witnessed this tragedy -- gave up on the United States and moved back to Mexico.

Republicans can perhaps gain entree with Hispanic voters by supporting comprehensive immigration reform. At the very least, they need to avoid approaching this issue with the angry hostility you hear from too many callers on talk radio.

But they also need to show an understanding of the realities these people are facing. They need to show the how their policies can help them achieve their dreams.

The Republican National Committee report is not a bad start.


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