Reform of our broken immigration policy is a moral and economic imperative. There are an estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, 8 million of who are in the nation’s workforce. These immigrants work in the toughest, hardest-to-fill jobs for the least amount of pay. Our broken immigration system leaves millions of immigrant workers without any way to become citizens, regardless of the taxes they pay and their significant contributions to the places where they work and the communities in which they live.
More than 5.5 million children in the United States have at least one parent who is an unauthorized immigrant. Eighty-two percent (4.5 million) of these children are U.S. citizens by birth and 18 percent (1 million) are undocumented immigrants themselves. Children of immigrants are significantly more likely to be economically disadvantaged than children of native born parents. Hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to this country as children live in fear of deportation.
The United States is also home to over 13 million lawful permanent residents (LPR) or green card holders who have not yet become U.S. citizens. These individuals arrived through family reunification, employment sponsorship or humanitarian programs. Many new immigrants find themselves in low wage jobs, with limited access to scarce resources such as job training and English language programs, to advance in the workforce. Many immigrants with advanced training and skills obtained abroad also must resort to lower wage jobs that don’t fully utilize their skills due to limited, lengthy or costly recertification programs.
Despite high rates of employment, immigrant and mixed status families experience a wide range of unnecessary hardships. Immigrants – including those lawfully present in the U.S. — are often shut out of basic economic support programs available to other taxpayers due to arbitrary eligibility restrictions that bear no relation to need. Even when eligible, immigrant and mixed status families are less likely to receive critical economic supports because of inconsistent and confusing rules and fear of repercussions.
An effective and meaningful immigration system will advance our nation’s economic growth and productivity. We will become a stronger nation when our immigrant population can assume the rights and responsibilities of full citizenship. The President and Congress must give priority to creating an immigration system that preserves family unity, provides opportunity, protects the rights of individuals and communities and strengthens the U.S. economy.
For more information on this issue, visit CHN’s Public Policy Priorities, 2013-2014.
ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Page
American Friends Service Committee – immigrants’ rights page
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Migration Policy Institute
National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium
National Council of La Raza
National Immigration Law Center
Policy Analyses and Research
- February 26, 2014U.S. Census Bureau: Noncitizens Under Age 35: 2010–2012
- February 3, 2014Economic Policy Institute: Assessing the New Republican “Standards for Immigration Reform”