Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • Net migration from Mexico dips to zero

    Net migration from Mexico. (Pew Hispanic Center)Mexican migration into the United States has come to a standstill and may soon reverse, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center. This marks a dramatic change in the wave of Mexican migration that brought 12 million people to America over four decades.

    About 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States between 2005 and 2010, which is roughly the same number of Mexicans who left over the same period.

    The number of illegal immigrants from Mexico dropped from 7 million in 2007, a peak, to 6.1 million in 2011. The report attributes the drop to the drastic decline in birthrates in Mexico, the increasingly dangerous passage across the border, and the flagging American economy. A higher percentage of deported migrants now say in surveys that they will not attempt to come back into the United States (compared to 10 years ago).

    The United States' estimated 12 million Mexican immigrants represent the largest chunk of immigrants in any country in the world. Mexico has sent more

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  • Maine named most peaceful state in America

    San Quentin State Prison, where prisoners were double bunked. Crime in prison has gone up, even as violent crime outside has dropped dramatically. (Eric Risberg/AP photo)

    Maine is the most peaceful state in America and Louisiana the least, according to rankings by an Australian think tank called the Institute for Economics and Peace.

    The rankings are based on the prevalence of violent crimes, homicides, police employees, size of the prison population and small arms availability.

    Overall, 2011 was the most peaceful year the United States has experienced in 20 years. Homicides and violent crimes both dropped by more than 3 percent last year, while the murder rate has plummeted a staggering 50 percent since 1991, when the survey first started. However, prison violence—which is not counted in the report—has risen dramatically as the number of people behind bars has also grown. (The United States has a higher percentage of its population incarcerated than any other nation.) Almost half of all forcible rapes occur in prison.

    Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Utah were the top five most peaceful states. Louisiana was the least peaceful, followed by

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  • Arizona’s illegal-immigration law heads to Supreme Court. Will justices strike it down?

    Gov. Jan Brewer shortly before SB1070 was enjoined in 2010. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

    Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the country's toughest illegal-immigration bill into law two years ago, setting off a long legal battle with the Obama administration and inspiring half a dozen states to emulate Arizona and pass similar laws. On Wednesday, the federal government and Arizona will face off at the Supreme Court, where Justice Department lawyers will try to convince the court that the law is an unconstitutional invasion into the federal government's turf.

    A federal judge blocked four major aspects of the law before they ever went into effect, including the provision that local police officers check the immigration status of people during stops if they have reason to suspect they lack legal status. Provisions making it a state crime for illegal immigrants to seek work, or for any immigrant to fail to carry immigration papers, were also blocked. Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision and shot down most of the law.

    Although public

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  • New video of border crosser’s death raises questions

    PBS uncovered new eyewitness video that casts doubt on the conduct of Border Patrol agents in the May 2010 death of Anastacio Hernández-Rojas, who was caught trying to enter the country illegally.

    Hernández-Rojas was deported from America after he was caught shoplifting. He tried to enter the country again in May 2010 near San Diego to return to his wife and five children, who were still living in California. According to new eyewitness testimony and video in the Need to Know on PBS documentary "First Look: Crossing the Line," Hernández-Rojas had his hands and feet tied when an unknown Border Patrol agent used his Taser on him five times. Hernández-Rojas was screaming in Spanish for onlookers to help him. He died shortly after.

    The Border Patrol said that Hernández-Rojas was not handcuffed and that the agent used force because he became violent. The Justice Department told PBS it is investigating the incident. The full segment will air on Friday.

    More popular Yahoo! News stories:

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  • Romney’s immigration stance may soften to appeal to Latino voters

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in St. Louis. (Michael Conroy/AP)Mitt Romney may adopt a softer tone on illegal immigration now that the long and divisive primary is all but over and he gears up for a head-to-head battle with President Barack Obama.

    Obama leads Romney among Hispanic voters by 40 points, according to the latest Pew Research Center poll, confirming the candidate's weakness with the fastest-growing demographic in the country. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign made a push on Wednesday to reach out to Hispanic voters by launching Spanish-language ads in battleground states like Colorado.

    On Sunday, in comments overheard by reporters from NBC and other outlets, Romney seemed worried about the chasm.

    "We have to get Hispanic voters to vote for our party," he told donors, according to NBC. Latinos' overwhelming support for Democrats and Obama "spells doom for us," he said.

    [Related: Obama campaign launches all-out blitz for Latino vote]

    Though it's still unclear exactly how Romney plans to avoid this "doom," the campaign appeared to distance itself from Kris Kobach, a Yale-trained lawyer and Kansas state politician who crafted most of the recent state and local laws that crack down on illegal immigration.

    A few months ago, Romney said in a press release that he was happy to have Kobach "on the team" and was looking forward to working with him to combat illegal immigration. Kobach told reporters that he was advising the governor on immigration issues. But a Romney spokesperson told Politico's Glenn Thrush on Tuesday that Kobach is a "supporter," not an adviser. Kobach told National Review Online later Tuesday that his role hasn't changed and he's still an informal adviser, and blamed Democrats for making it appear as if his job had been modified.

    More...But is the "adviser" versus "supporter" difference just semantics? Maybe, but the distinction is likely important for some Hispanic voters who associate Kobach with policies that they believe scapegoat illegal immigrants and their children—many of whom are U.S. citizens—for the nation's economic and national security problems.

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  • The end of the Minutemen: Tea party absorbs the border-watching movement

    California Minutemen volunteers patrolling in 2005. (Sandy Huffaker/AP)

    Back in 2004, Jim Gilchrist, a retired Marine and the founder of the California Minutemen Project, emailed a few dozen friends and family suggesting that concerned civilians personally combat illegal immigration by traveling to the Arizona border with him. Gilchrist lives in Orange County, Calif., but the Arizona border was the most heavily trafficked and sparsely patrolled. That email reached thousands of people and touched a nerve. Hundreds showed up in April 2005 to patrol the border. Some of them brought floppy hats, lawn chairs, binoculars and American flags. Others toted guns and protest signs. The group banned neo-Nazis from attending, though some came anyway. A movement was born.

    Gilchrist estimates he did 4,000 radio and TV interviews over the next five years as his group's membership swelled and the media attention exploded. "It was just literally overwhelming," he said.

    But today, the once-thriving Minutemen anti-illegal immigration fraternity has all but died out. No one knows exactly why the groups fizzled so quickly, but researchers and former border-watching leaders say infighting and bad press have taken a toll. At the same time, the tea party movement started to rise, which usurped members and stole the groups' thunder.

    Still, the movement's message and popularity have left an indelible mark on the Republican Party, whose leaders underestimated the anger in their base over illegal immigration. The GOP, which at the time was considering legislation to legalize undocumented immigrants in a version of Ronald Reagan's 1986 immigration reform law, rejected the popular movement at first. President George W. Bush dismissed the Minutemen as "vigilantes," while Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner said he worried the volunteers would get hurt or hurt illegal immigrants.

    Seven years later, Gilchrist tells Yahoo News that the Minutemen Project has petered out amid expensive legal battles over control of the group. Some of his former comrades attempted to fire him as president, alleging that he was using the group's funds inappropriately. He countersued for defamation and lost, but eventually won back control of the group in court. Outspoken activists mainly interested in money and fame infiltrated the ranks and tried to take over, says Gilchrist, distracting from the original goal of border watching. "There are bad apples," he said. "There are some in any group."

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  • Judge in George Zimmerman case discloses tie to CNN legal analyst

    Attorney Mark NeJame at a 2011 news conference. (AP Photo/John Raoux)A Florida judge in the George Zimmerman case said in a surprise hearing on Friday that her husband has ties to a CNN legal analyst and commentator.

    The Orlando Sentinel reports that Judge Jessica Recksiedler disclosed that her husband works for the law firm of Mark NeJame, a prominent Orlando attorney, in the five-minute hearing Friday afternoon. NeJame has been hired to sound off on the Zimmerman case for CNN. It's unclear if either attorney will ask Recksiedler to step aside because of the connection.

    NeJame said on CNN Friday that Recksiedler wants to avoid "the appearance of impropriety" with this disclosure. NeJame said he referred Zimmerman to his current lawyer.

    Zimmerman has spent two nights in jail on charges of second-degree murder, and will ask for bond in a hearing on April 20. He's charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense.

    Correction: An earlier version of this article

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  • Ann Romney responds to claim she has ‘never worked a day in her life’

    Update 2:40p.m. ET: Hilary Rosen publicly apologized for her "poorly chosen words." "I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended," Rosen said in a widely-reported statement Thursday. "Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance."

    Ann Romney went on Fox News Thursday to rebut claims from Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, that the wife of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee "has actually never worked a day in her life."

    "My career choice was to be a mother. And I think all of us need to know that we need to respect choices that women make," Romney said.

    Rosen said on CNN Wednesday night that Romney couldn't relate to regular women because she didn't need to work while raising her five children. Rosen also called Mitt Romney "old-fashioned" when it comes to women and someone who doesn't "see us as equals." The Republican National Committee called her statements "an affront to mothers everywhere."

    "I know what it's like to struggle and maybe I haven't struggled as much financially as some people have, but I can tell you that I've had struggles in my life," Ann Romney said Thursday. "I would love to have people understand that Mitt and I have compassion for people that are struggling and that's why we're running." Ann Romney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and is also a breast cancer survivor.

    Romney said her husband respects and is advised by women, including his former chief of staff and lieutenant governor when he led Massachusetts. "Mitt Romney is a person that admires women and listens to them," she said.

    Democratic operatives immediately sought to distance themselves from Rosen. "She's not an adviser to the DNCthe DNC's contract for media services is exclusively with Anita Dunn," Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse wrote in an email to reporters. Rosen works for the same consulting firm as Dunn.

    But Republicans reject that claim. On a conference call with reporters Thursday, Romney supporter Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state said Rosen's firm has been paid by the campaign and that Rosen has long been directly involved in campaign efforts. She is serving as a "paid spokesperson" for the campaign, supporters said on the call. "She's visited the White House 35 times," Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming added.

    The Republican National Committee on Thursday called on DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to "immediately apologize" on behalf of Rosen. "To suggest that any mother has 'never worked a day in her life' is an affront to mothers everywhere," the committee said.

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  • Arizona lawmakers to review cyberbullying bill over free speech concerns

    A troll doll. (Eraphernalia/Flickr)Members of the Arizona House and Senate will review a recently passed anti-cyberstalking bill after critics raised concerns that it's so broad it could authorize arrests for online "trolls" who write mean comments on social media and news sites.

    State Rep. Chad Campbell, a co-sponsor of the bill, told Yahoo News that lawmakers are trying "to address the constitutional concerns" raised by First Amendment advocates and are looking at making some changes. "This bill was only intended to go after people who are engaging in digital stalking, nothing more. If it can't be fixed to address the constitutional concerns then I will be voting no on it," he wrote in an email.

    In March, Arizona politicians overwhelmingly voted to update an old statute that prohibited harassment and stalking by telephone to also include Internet communications, in an effort to combat cyberbullying. The new statute says it's illegal for anyone to use profane or lewd language on an electronic device with the intent to "terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend." The statute also makes it a crime for someone to infringe upon the "peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person" by "repeated anonymous electronic or digital communications."

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  • Poll shows big racial divide in opinion on Trayvon Martin case

    A "Justice for Trayvon" march in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/The St. Paul Pioneer Press, John Autey)

    Americans are sharply divided by race in their opinion of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Florida by a Hispanic neighborhood watchman.

    A Gallup/USA Today poll finds that most black Americans (73 percent) think Trayvon Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman, would have been arrested if Martin had been white. Only 33 percent of non-Hispanic white people said the same thing.

    The racial divide on Zimmerman's guilt was also big: 51 percent of black people said Zimmerman is "definitely guilty" based on the information available, compared to only 10 percent of whites. About 20 percent of both whites and blacks said Zimmerman was "probably guilty."

    Zimmerman told police that he was following Martin because he looked "suspicious" when the unarmed 17-year-old then attacked him. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense. He hasn't been charged. Martin's family says Zimmerman followed and then attacked and shot Martin in an act of vigilante policing.

    An earlier Pew Research Center

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