National immigration legislation, held hostage by contentious partisan politics for the past decade, seems farther than ever from enactment. Yet new Census figures and studies by several nonprofit groups indicate it is the necessary alternative to piecemeal local and state initiatives.
Let’s start with the latest release of U.S. Census Bureau figures showing that 85 percent of the population growth in the United States over the last decade came from racial minorities, with Hispanics the biggest contributors.
Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) told USA Today he expects redistricting after the Census to produce at least nine additional Latino-majority U.S. House seats. Latino members of Congress, both Democratic and Republican, have tended to actively support immigration reform proposals that provide a path to citizenship for undocumented people already here.
Underlining the increasingly large role of the undocumented-worker population is a study by the Pew Hispanic Center. It found that the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States peaked at about 12 million in 2007 and now stands at a little over 11 million.
Those are staggering figures that indicate just how difficult it would be to force mass deportations of illegal immigrants, both from an economic and human-rights standpoint.