Recession Sends Illegals Packing

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The number of undocumented workers in this country has dropped by millions over the last couple of years. Is because of enforcement, or is it because of debt?

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, the number of undocumented workers in the United States has declined by nearly two million over the last two years. And the decline might be greater if not for something so many Americans can relate to: debt.

“In reality it’s simply hard. There’s a lot of people and only a few jobs.”
-Joquin, Undocumented Worker

Joquin is one of millions of undocumented workers unable to find work in the US and unable to leave.

“If you don’t send money to the family than what are you doing here, you are practically doing nothing.”
-Joquin, Undocumented Worker

But he can’t go home. Like many Ameircans, Joquin is trapped by the current recession and his debt.

“They don’t come here to stay. But what happens is they get indebted to be able to come here. To pay the coyotes and so on and so forth. To pay the loan shark: 10 percent interest a month. If they are deported with debt, they are forced to come back in illegally. They have absolutely no choice. Because they’ll go after their families… the loan sharks. The whole system is just terrible.”
-Erik Camayd-Freixas, Florida International University

This professor has been studying the plight of the undocumented for years. And he’s convinced the ultimate solution isn’t fencing or enforcement.

It’s a system that allows guest workers to enter the US legally… without danger or debt… but only when there’s a job waiting for them.

“The trick is to find a middle ground where you can bring workers, pay them a decent salary, so they can go back with savings and at the same time they won’t depress the wages in the United States for American workers.”
-Erik Camayd-Freixas, Florida International University

But until then, people like Joquin remain miles from home and just as far from his American dream.

“You have to survive and accept the reality, you can’t do any other thing but wait for a job or a way to get back home.”
-Joquin, Undocumented Worker

Bottom line? If illegal immigration is the problem, maybe a whole bunch of fencing isn’t the only solution.

Stacy Johnson

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