Based on interviews conducted between 2011 and 2012, this paper examines how highly skilled migrants from Brazil, Russia, India, and China in Arizona have experienced acculturation to US racial norms and heightened anti-immigration sentiment since 9/11, which in this state culminated in the passage of Senate Bill 1070. We found that negative experiences with incorporation into US racial hierarchies, immigration enforcement at the Mexico–US border, and profiling as ‘foreigners’ had little impact on their deliberations to return to countries that have become new engines for global growth at a time of US economic decline. Interviewees tended to interpret their experiences as having been mistaken for members of other targeted groups, expected exemption from SB 1070 because of their highly skilled and/or documented status, and lacked knowledge of a now defunct provision in the bill that would have affected immigrants by criminalising failure to carry proper documentation. Instead of immigration experiences or the economic downturn in the US, participants were deterred from return because of perceived deficiencies in their countries of origin, which mitigated the attractiveness of the new economic opportunities there.
- SB 1070
- highly skilled migration to the US
- immigration enforcement
- return migration
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development