More than 10 million illegal
immigrants live in the United States, and
1,400 more arrive every day. Once concentrated in a few big states like
Texas and California, they are rapidly moving into non-traditional areas
such as the Midwest and South. Willing to work for low wages, the migrants
are creating a backlash among some residents of the new states, which have
seen a nearly tenfold increase in
immigrants only make up about 5 percent of the U.S.
work force, critics of the nation's
immigrants take Americans' jobs, threaten national security and
even change the nation's culture by refusing to assimilate. But immigrants'
migrants fill the jobs Americans refuse to
take and generally boost the economy. Proposals to deal with
include the Real ID bill, which would block states from issuing driver's licenses to
undocumented immigrants, and “guest worker” programs granting temporary legal status
Go to top
The only future awaiting María and Juan Gomez in their tiny village in Mexico was
working the fields from sunup to sundown, living mostly on tortillas and beans. So 10
years ago, when they were both 17, they crossed into the United States illegally, near San
Diego. Now ensconced in the large Latino community outside Washington, D.C., they
are working hard at building a life for themselves and their young son.
Juan and María (not their real names) follow a simple strategy — staying out of trouble
and undercutting competitors. Juan does landscaping, charging about $600 for major yard
work — about $400 less than the typical legal contractor. María cleans houses for $70;
house-cleaning services normally charge $85 or more.
They aren't complaining, but María and Juan know they offer bargain-basement prices.
“You walk down the street, and every house being built, Hispanics are building it,” María
says in Spanish. “This country is getting more work for less money.”