Over the past year and a half, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona has transformed his police department into an immigration-enforcement agency, gaining international publicity in the process. Yet a growing number of elected officials, media outlets, and religious and civic leaders have criticized Sheriff Arpaio’s tactics and their impact on his community. In addition, two independent reports by the East Valley Tribune and the Goldwater Institute describe a Sheriff’s department where crime-solving is down and racial profiling and budget expenditures are way up.
Many people assume that their family immigrated to the U.S. legally, or did it “the right way.” In most cases, this statement does not reflect the fact that the U.S. immigration system was very different when their families arrived, and that their families might not have been allowed to enter had today’s laws been in effect. In some cases, claiming that a family came “legally” is simply inaccurate—undocumented immigration has been a reality for generations.
Latinos weren't the only group that flexed its muscles this past Election Day. New Americans--naturalized citizens and the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were born during the current era of immigration that began in 1965--make up another important demographic group that demonstrated its ability to swing an election.
Numerous studies by independent researchers and government commissions over the past 100 years repeatedly and consistently have found that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born.
The political debate over undocumented immigrants in the United States has largely ignored the plight of undocumented children who, for the most part, have grown up and received much of their primary and secondary education in this country. A new report from the Immigration Policy Center by Roberto Gonzales, Wasted Talent and Broken Dreams: The Lost Potential of Undocumented Students, makes clear that without a means to legalize their status, these children are seldom able to go on to college, cannot work legally in the United States, and therefore cannot put their educations to good use. Moreover, at any time, they can be deported to countries they barely know (www.ailf.org/ipc/infocus/WastedTalent.pdf). This wasted talent imposes financial and emotional costs not only on undocumented students themselves, but on the U.S. economy and U.S. society as a whole.
A new 2008 National Survey of Latinos by the Pew Hispanic Center reveals disturbing new evidence that Latinos – U.S. citizens as well as legal immigrants and undocumented immigrants—are feeling the effects of the immigration debate gone ugly. Regardless of immigration status, Latinos are feeling anxious and discriminated against amid sanctioned public immigrant-bashing and stepped-up immigration enforcement measures.
According to new estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States did not increase between 2007 and 2008, and may actually have fallen. These findings should come as no surprise given the current state of the economy.
September 17th is Citizenship Day—a day to recognize and celebrate all of the immigrants who have chosen to integrate fully and become U.S. citizens. While some fear that demographic shifts threaten American identity, research and experience have shown that today’s immigrants integrate into American society just like generations of immigrants before them. Citizenship Day is a time to celebrate the many immigrants who have taken a step toward full integration and participation in U.S. civic life.