Illegal immigration grows; both sides seize on numbers
As the fight continues to tighten America's borders rages from Sacramento to Washington, D.C., a new report reveals that illegal immigration to the U.S. is up about 8 percent over last year.
According to the report, the number of undocumented immigrants has grown to as many as 12 million people. The study by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, D.C., found the number of "unauthorized migrants" rose from about 3 million in 1980 to 11.1 million last year to nearly 12 million this year.
The report's author, Jeffrey Passel, attributed the increase to a combination of jobs that attracted mostly low-skilled workers from Latin America and increased border enforcement that made them reluctant to return home. Of the 12 million total, 7.2 million undocumented immigrants were employed in March 2005, making up about 4.9 percent of the civilian labor force.
While 94 percent of men illegally in the country hold jobs, undocumented women are less likely to hold jobs than legal or native-born workers, largely because of the presence of children in their families, the study said.
About 3.1 million children, or two-thirds of all the children in families that include illegal immigrants, were born in the United States and are citizens. The number of children born here to illegal immigrants is used by advocates of tighter controls as an argument against issuing temporary worker visas.
Activists on both sides of the issue said the study underscored that the country's immigration system is dysfunctional and needs to be fixed - although they offered different solutions. Meanwhile, business interests especially want new "guest worker" visas and legal status for immigrants already here because, they say, the economy needs the immigrants who are filling unwanted jobs.
Thousands of people have protested outside Congress against an immigration bill. This week, Senate debate continues to heat up on several controversial proposals in the legislation. Critics of the measure demand that illegal immigrants be granted residency. But the bill has strong support from the Bush administration . The President has said he would sign the bill into law if it is passed by the Senate.
For an in-depth look at the story, check out reports from AZ Central.com and Voice of America.
Related: Specter proposes guest worker program
Tags: Birthright Citizenship, Illegal Immigrants, Guest Workers, Politics, Current Affairs, Media by Sistrunk