Yearning To Be Free

According to a recent Pew Research Center Report, when it comes to stemming the flow of people risking the dangerous border crossing between Mexico and the United States, nearly half of Americans say that penalizing employers who hire undocumented immigrants is the most effective approach; roughly 33 percent support more border patrol agents; and only 9 percent say that building walls or fences is the most effective deterrent. Consider:

• 30 percent of foreign-born immigrants in the United States are undocumented.

• 4.9 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force is made up of undocumented immigrants.

• $421 billion has been withheld in Social Security payments (as of 2003) from the wages of undocumented workers, who are not allowed to draw on Social Security funds.

• 64 percent of children living in undocumented families are U.S. citizens by birth—an estimated 3.1 million children in 2005.

• 78 percent of undocumented immigrants in the United States have come from Latin America.

• 16,031: The number of active U.S. military members, as of 2003, whose citizenship was listed as “unknown”—about one in every 100.

Sources: “The Size and Characteristics of the Unauthorized Migrant Population in the U.S.,” Pew Hispanic Center, March 2006; “The Social Security Program and Reform: A Latino Perspective,” The National Council of La Raza, 2005; “Citizenship of Thousands of U.S. Servicemen Unknown,” (Denver Post, Feb. 23, 2004).

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Sojourners Magazine June 2006
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