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Who’s creating US jobs? Mexicans.

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In fiscal year 2008, the US issued E-1 and E-2 visas to 1901 Mexicans and their families, nearly three times the level of a decade before. (See chart at left.)

The natural target for Mexican immigrant investors? San Antonio.

“San Antonio just came out ... as probably one of the best cities to invest in,” says Alfredo Lozano, an immigration attorney who works in the same law firm as Mr. Martinez. It’s close to Mexico but considered less dangerous than cities like Brownsville and Laredo.

That’s what attracted Ricardo del Rio.

“Very Mexican, very friendly. Quiet. I call it ranch,” says the polite and precise insurance agent, who got E-2 visas for his family at the end of 2006.

He turned down a job in Miami – concerned his family wouldn’t feel at home with the diverse Latino communities there. Setting up shop in California would have cost him three times as much, he adds.

But Mr. del Rio might not be here much longer. His visa business plan called for hiring seven people over five years in his insurance business, and that’s yet to happen. He has two more years to make good on that proposal – and thinks he may hire a handful – or he won’t be able to renew his visa and he and his family will be forced to leave the US – an unsavory prospect. “I wanted to be out [of Mexico] before something really bad happened,” he says.

Jewelrymaker moves to San Antonio

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