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In the midst of the debate over the largest potential immigration reform legislation in 50 years, some American communities struggling with decades of population loss and economic decline are being revitalized by newcomers. The role of immigrants in high-skilled fields is relatively well-known, but less acknowledged are the contributions that “blue collar” immigrants play in revitalizing depressed communities and economies, both as manual laborers and small business entrepreneurs.
Immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras sent home more than $10 billion in remittances in 2011— almost all of it from the United States. Remittances comprised 17 percent of GDP in Honduras, 16 percent in El Salvador, and 10 percent in Guatemala and they dwarf both foreign direct investment and overseas development assistance.
En parte, los $10 mil millones enviados en remesas anualmente a Centroamérica podrían ser canalizados para apoyar proyectos productivos en comunidades emisoras de migrantes; pero la actual falta de marco político y conocimiento técnico son barreras. Las agencias de desarrollo de los EE.UU. están listas para facilitar los usos productivos de remesas a nivel tanto de política como de programa en cooperación con los gobiernos anfitriones y el sector privado.
In 2000, Latinos became the largest ethnic minority in the United States. Today, 16.3 percent of the U.S. population is Latino—more than 50 million people. The growing Latino presence is increasingly evident in schools, communities, and workplaces.
Moreover, more than half of the U.S. population growth since 2000 has been among Latinos, due partly to immigration and partly to a higher birthrate. Thus, a higher percentage of U.S. children than of the total U.S. population is Latino: 22 percent. This percentage is expected to increase because the Latino population is younger than the U.S. average. Children who are U.S. citizens but have at least one parent who is an immigrant are now the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.
The immigration debate, while focused on domestic issues, largely overlooks some of the principal causes of unauthorized migration to the United States: poverty and inequality in Latin America.
The U.S. government identifies Latin America as the primary source (80 percent) of unauthorized immigration, but its responses internally, at the border, and through its foreign assistance to migrantsending countries is focused on enforcement.
Border enforcement fails to impact the causes of unauthorized migration in Latin America and U.S. foreign assistance to Latin America typically doesn’t take into account its impact on migration pressures.
This report analyzes a project in rural Mexico that was designed with an awareness of the connections between development and migration. The project is analyzed in this report to inspire discussion and action linking development and the reduction of migration pressures.
- Where unauthorized immigrants come from
- Where they live in the U.S.
- What type of work they do
- The socio-economic challenges they face in the U.S.
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