New Report: Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States

Posted by on April 20, 2009

Born citizens, but still impoverished and fearing deportation

A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center highlights a growing dilemma in the immigration debate, according to The Associated Press. Growing numbers of children of illegal immigrants are born in this country, and are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty as those with American-born parents. These children struggle and face uncertainty alongside parents who fear deportation, toil largely in low-wage jobs, and suffer layoffs in an ailing economy. Pew’s analysis estimates that 11.9 million illegal immigrants were living in the United States as of March 2008 — 5.4 percent of the U.S. work force. In 2003, 2.7 million children of illegal immigrants, or 63 percent, were born here. Children of illegal immigrants hold a delicate place in the United States. On the one hand, the Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that these children, citizens or not, were entitled to a public school education. On the other hand, immigrants and their families are among the poorest in the country, easily exploited by employers and subject to arrest at any time. Children who are U.S. citizens cannot petition for their parents to become legal U.S. residents until they are at least 21.

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