Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Fencing in Illegal Immigration

While Congress nears its deadline of March 27 to complete its debates on several bills that seek to resolve the illegal immigration crisis in the U.S., the Pew Hispanic Center released an update to their report of March 2005. The Pew’s recent report extrapolates previous estimates on the number of illegal immigrants believed to be living in the U.S.

The Pew report concluded that approximately 10 Million illegal immigrants currently live in the U.S. The report goes on to state that an overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants are Latino and that most are from Mexico.

The Pew’s report also examines the States that these undocumented immigrants make home as well as the types of work they perform. It provides a breakdown on the number of illegal immigrants living in each State of the union.

From the Pew Hispanic Center Report:

“-- Most illegal immigrants live in families where the adults are undocumented, but the children are U.S.-born. An estimated 13.9 million people -- including 4.7 million children -- live in families in which the head of household or the spouse is an unauthorized immigrant.

-- Illegal immigrants continue to outpace the number of legal immigrants -- a trend that's held steady since the 1990s. While the undocumented continue to concentrate in places with existing large communities of Hispanics, they are also increasingly settling throughout the rest of the country.

-- Among the U.S. states experiencing the greatest growth in illegal immigrant population are Arizona, North Carolina, Utah, Colorado and Idaho -- places not traditionally considered centers of illegal immigrant communities.

-- Illegal immigrants arriving in recent years tend to have more education than those who've been in the country a decade or more. A quarter has at least some college education. Nonetheless, undocumented immigrants as a group are less educated than other sections of the U.S. population: 49 percent haven't completed high school, compared with 9 percent of native-born Americans and 25 percent of legal immigrants.

-- Illegal immigrants can be found working in many sectors of the U.S. economy. About 3 percent work in agriculture; 33 percent have jobs in service industries; and substantial numbers can be found in construction and related occupations (16 percent) and in production, installation and repair (17 percent).

-- Illegal immigrants have lower incomes than both legal immigrants and native-born Americans, but earnings do increase somewhat the longer an individual is in the country.”

Whether or not Congress meets the deadline and reaches bi-partisan agreement on illegal immigration remains to be seen. Mexican undocumented immigrants are closing watching the congressional debates on Spanish media outlets for signs on their negative impact. While most undocumented immigrants quietly yearn for good news few expect an easy path towards a guest-worker or legal residency status.

As 10 Million undocumented immigrants wait their fate they are reminded that over 300 immigrants died last year while attempting to illegally enter the U.S. The deaths included women and children which is evidence to a troubling fact that some immigrants are just trying to reunite with a family member on this side of the border.

As Border States increasingly focus on passing measures designed to prevent illegal entry at the border, such as Arizona’s just approved proposal to erect a double- and triple-layered fence, undocumented immigrants face an uncertain future.

The recent bi-partisan support and approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee for the Arizona fence and measures for increasing the number of agents patrolling the border will ultimately prove more costly and less effective than enforcing work permits at the workplace. Congress failure to enact a reasonable guest-worker program denies the fact that agriculture and industry heavily rely on immigrant labor. As Congress locks itself into a contentious debate over proposed guest-worker programs, because ultra-conservative Republicans see it as another Amnesty, it considers more draconian measures that would make living in the U.S. a criminal offense and propose that such laws be applied retroactively. Spanish media outlets have begun to provide extensive coverage on the proposed measures as well as drawing attention to the many marches and public protests by groups who strongly oppose illegal immigration.

Perhaps the bigger and more interesting story is being written as Mexico readies itself on how to deal with its citizens who no longer emigrate to the U.S. It has been argued that the net migration from Mexico in fact lessens the economic and social burdens of such country. The illegal immigrants from Mexico quickly become assets to Mexico as they begin to send regular remittances to their families back home. The level of remittances has continued to increase and last year resulted in an estimated 20 Billion US Dollars.


No comments: