Beth Macy explores in detail in today’s newspaper why no one in the Hispanic community or the providers who serve them seemed surprised by the reported surge in population during the past decade, with 5,345 Hispanics counted in Roanoke and 1,951 in Roanoke County.
If anything, Hispanic residents are likely to have been undercounted by census-takers, they said — even though the recession has hit Hispanic laborers hard, and enforcement of illegal immigration has increased with the recent opening of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Salem.
By his own calculations, the Rev. Job Marquez said he believes 12 to 14 new immigrants are turning up in the Roanoke region every day, largely from Mexico and nearly all of them illegally.
Many are living in the shadows, hoping to wait out both the recession and the current anti-immigrant sentiment.
“For the most part, people are still being treated well here,” said Marquez, who heads a Christian pastors association that represents 11 area Hispanic congregations. “Their kids are getting educated … and their relatives are already here.”