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Feb 3, 2009 3:43 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Bad economy forces some migrant workers home

Feb 3, 2009 3:43 PM

Farther west, the situation seems even more dire. Sister Margaret Smyth of the North Fork Hispanic Apostolate, based in Riverhead, said that since October, she has bought return tickets for 17 immigrants to four different locations—Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.

“They can’t work and they are getting depressed,” Sister Smyth said. “It’s becoming overwhelming, so they’re going home. Some people have come in, sat down and cried because they haven’t worked in three or four months, so they’re broken down.”

Immigrant families are more stable here, as opposed to single men, who seem to be the main demographic that is leaving or considering leaving. “It’s the single guys, the migrant workers, who might be starting to go,” said Dan Hartnett, a social worker in the East Hampton School District.

Evidence that families are not leaving comes from school enrollment statistics. There have not been more withdrawals in the East Hampton School District in the last couple months than normal, Superintendant Ray Gaultieri said. “Enrollment has been pretty steady for the last couple years. I think if there aren’t jobs for families when spring comes, then people might start to leave,” he said.

In the Montauk School, there has not been a decrease in enrollment and Superintendant Jack Perna said, “We’re all in the same boat out here in the winter. This fall was a little off, businesswise, but in the winter, you do nothing anyway.”

The Springs School has actually seen a slight increase in enrollment.

Henry Quiroz, of East Hampton, said at the OLA Younger Generation party two weeks ago that he would like to go back home to Ecuador, “but when you have kids, you can’t. People like me, with family, we just keep trying as best we can to get by.”

But in order to stay here and try to get by, several families will crowd into one house, which has been a source of contention with the town’s Ordinance Enforcement Department for years.

Dominic Schirrippa, the Ordinance Enforcement director, said that the winter is always quiet in terms of housing violations and that he hasn’t necessarily seen a change in the Latino population.

“The number of housing violation tickets we give out is declining because we’ve stepped up enforcement in the last few years,” he said. Since the beginning of 2009, the department has ticketed two houses, which he said is about the same as last year at this time.

Joaquín Méndez, the director of the English as a Second Language program in the Southampton School District, said that because of the tough times, people in the Latino community are coming together to support each other more than ever.

“There is some level of reverse migration, but there is also, at the same time, a greater level of solidarity,” Mr. Méndez said. “People are helping each other, taking each other into their homes. The fact is that there are people who have roots here now that are greater than their roots in their countries of origin.”

Back at the shape-up in East Hampton, it was getting close to lunchtime and nobody had been picked up for work.

“We come here ever day,” Mr. Nieves said, “but...” He grimaced and threw up his arms. “We just stand here and wait.”

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Are we talking immigrants, or illegal immigrants? The writer of the article should have clarified.
By The_Realist (6), Sagaponack on Feb 3, 09 5:30 PM
I don't understand why Mexico and other Latin American countries don't send flights to New York City to bring some of these immigrants home to their families, since these people have contributed to their local economies abroad by sending money there consistently. Also, you would think all these conservative groups would want to do something good (most claim to be Christians) and help send these people back to their families. Some immigrants would be leaving which is what conservatives want and those ...more
By Louienyc79 (1), Bronx on Feb 3, 09 9:54 PM
this is the inevitable problem.....what happens when the work dries up???????? Are these people contributing in any way to the economy ......or are they draining local resources??? Are there less babies being produced, and of those babies do you really think those parents want to take the kids back "home"?????
By eastender09 (29), southampton on Feb 4, 09 12:08 PM
at least they have another home to run to.what about the rest of us stuck here to foot the bill?i don't have a second home in another country to run to when times are tuff.dont them fool you those guys at 7/11 own many homes in there native countrys they learned to cry to get free hand outs.i know of at least ten that have 5 or 6 homes in there native country and here they live in a basement
with sheets for walls sending the loot south.now that the loot has run dry time to go home kick back ...more
By pinga (90), hamptonbays on Feb 4, 09 4:16 PM
Doesnt anyone care that these people BROKE the law? Now that they can't find work they have no use for the Unitied States!. They send money home and they don't pay any taxes here. Wake up everyone. It's time for "change".
Hmmmmmm does that phrase sound familiar?????????????????
By DonnaBalchu@aol.com (2), Southampton on Feb 4, 09 6:34 PM
I totally agree with you Donna. How about the fact that they have hurt local contractors like me by not only being here illegally they are operating as a business without liability or compensation insurance like the rest of us. We as citizens have to jump through dozens of hoops to operate as a business and at the end of the year we ahve to file income taxes . These people are not required to do any of that and yet tax dollars go to give them food stamps, housing allowances, education for their ...more
By Vbalchunas (11), Southampton on Feb 4, 09 6:49 PM
Shouldn't our gov't be able to track money sent out of the country by wire.See where it came from and apply taxes to it.
I pay sales tax, payroll tax, social security, and every other tax I have to being an employer, I pay my taxes because I have to and I remember to pay them becauase I have to.
By shock (70), whb on Feb 4, 09 7:51 PM
well hasn't this article generate some interest, In answer to shock about the taxes the answer is that the government has a vehicle to collect taxes. It is the Federal Wire protocol, I'm not sure of the name but all wire transactions are sent via Federal wire service, just like if you win a large amount at the horse track the taxes are immediately collected and forward via the same protocol, but like anything else your government including Southampton politicians have no principles. We are ...more
By tom (53), Hampton Bays on Feb 4, 09 10:28 PM
Before all of you bleeding hearts out there feel that somehow we as legal citizens should now be responsible to try and help criminals who hopped the fence because they are un-employed think about this. I have been in their countries at least 30 times. I have brought over 1500 people with me to volunteer to help them. When you enter their countries, you don't get in unless you enter with the right documentation and come in through the front door. If you think for 1 minute that you could go there ...more
By Vbalchunas (11), Southampton on Feb 5, 09 6:01 AM
The liberal media has long ago stopped any attempt whatsoever at reporting the news. If i steal a car and keep it for say 3 years with no problems. One day i get caught in this car that i have maintained and cleaned and cared for as if it were my own. Should i be allowed to keep it and get in no trouble because of my positive history with this car? Too extreme an example? Feel free to change it to say unpaid parking tickets.Or hooking up the cable for the tv on the pole(old school). Unpaid tickets? ...more
By double-D (96), southampton on Feb 5, 09 9:02 PM
Well, it sounds like the cross-burners are out here in force today. Yes, illegal immigration is illegal. Yes, they need to take responsibility for themselves. But I think you are missing the point of the article, which is really about the sad state of our economy, especially in the service sector, and the effect it has had on the local population of (illegal) immigrants. Before you start reciting Lou Dobbs, please remember that these are human beings who came here in search of a better life ...more
By HEJIRANYC (32), Sag Harbor on Feb 6, 09 4:25 PM
The problem with these immigrants is that they didn't come to this country to embrace it they came here to exploit it and we as a country let it happen. Thats the plain, hard truth. Now that they've had the children born here on our dime, used food stamps to feed their kids meanwhile sending the all mighty dollar out of the country. Now the money well has dried up and off they go laughing all the way to some South American bank. Oh boo hoo for them. Let the Liberals cry all they want. And why is ...more
By BigL11946 (29), Hampton Bays on Feb 6, 09 5:37 PM
The bright side: there will be a bit more freelance work available for all the folks who cannot flee to another country, or community.
By hellolotte (5), Sag Harbor on Feb 6, 09 10:26 PM
It is about the sad state of our economy.
But all the ILLEAGAL RATS will abandon ship as fast as they crossed the river and crawled underneath the barbed wire. Leaving real Americans to weather the storm. A slumping economy is the best Illegal Immigration control we have right now. It sad to say but maybe it's for the best!!!!
By Dragharbor1980 (9), North Haven on Feb 6, 09 10:57 PM
I am constantly amazed by the hatred and ignorance that exists in Southampton.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Feb 7, 09 6:43 PM
Ignorance? Anything but. There were lots of insightful things said onthis forum.
By aastro (1), New York on Feb 8, 09 12:18 PM
if we immigrants go back home! this country sinks! because Americans are lazy and do not like to work!
By denny (2), southampton on Feb 8, 09 4:32 PM
The reason why the economy is the way iit is, is because of all the free money taken from the iIllegal immigrants. They are here illegally remember? They are breaking the law and we are footing the bill.
By dbnyeve (19), wading river on Feb 8, 09 10:17 PM
I know this will bring out the liberal fury, but here goes........my father survived the Great Depression, was a pilot in WW2, worked until 6 wks before he died (paid taxes on it, too!) at 85 and lived by the motto: AMERICA-LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT. Adios, amigos!
By EQme (112), East Quogue on Feb 9, 09 11:10 AM
Well we finally have the solution on how to get rid of 12,000,000 illegals in "OUR" country. Once they all go back home because there is nothing left to rape in this country we then can put up the fence on "OUR" borders which will put lots of Americans to work and then keep the law breakers out. Then it will allow those "HONEST" immigrants who are knocking on the front door of "OUR" country to gain "LEGAL" passage. The news has been making a big stink about the lady with octuplets and that most ...more
By Vbalchunas (11), Southampton on Feb 10, 09 5:34 AM
Well my comment is not spoken out of ignorance & hatred. I am just tired of the immigrants (illegal or not) sending our American money abroad! And thats the ONLY reason they are here!!! This is one of the many reasons are ecomony is in the shape it is in. We need to circulate our money here in the U.S.! Here we are getting poorer and there they are getting richer. Its just like issue with gasoline. The foreign countries are getting rich off of us while we are drowning. Like someone stated above, ...more
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Feb 13, 09 2:29 PM