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Video Series on Immigration
The Price of Immigration
Jose likes soccer. He likes his car. And he loves his family, which is why he left Mexico for the United States when he was 17, started working, and now sends about 20 percent of his pay to support them in Mexico.
Like many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, Jose came here for opportunities that don't exist at home.
"We're not criminals," said Jose, which is not his real name. "We just come here to seek a better life."
Indeed, economic necessity is the reason people risk their lives to work in the United States.
And contrary to rhetoric that immigrants steal American jobs and drive down wages, research shows that immigrant labor is a necessity to the U.S. economy:
- The Arizona economy would shrink by $48.8 billion, or 20 percent, if all undocumented workers left the state (Immigration Policy Center, March 2011)
- Immigration improves employment, productivity and income but needs adjustments that respond to the economic cycle (Migration Policy Institute, June 2010)
- Hispanic immigrants contributed $9.2 billion to the North Carolina economy in 2006 and created 89,000 spinoff jobs (UNC-Chapel Hill's Kenan Flagler Business School, Jan. 2006)
Stay: Migration and poverty in rural Mexico
The unauthorized immigrant population in the United States has tripled from 3.5 million people in 1990 to more than 11 million in 2010.
Stepped-up patrols along the border with Mexico—the source of 60 percent of unauthorized immigrants—has had little impact.
Border enforcement does not get to the root of why people leave their home countries: to escape poverty.
In 2009, 96 percent of U.S. foreign assistance to Mexico was spent on military and drug enforcement. Investing in rural areas instead can help reduce the pressure to migrate.