Friday, September 3, 2010

Pew Hispanic Center, illegal immigrants and the need for reform -

Pew Hispanic Center, illegal immigrants and the need for reform -

Crossing the border from Mexico has rarely been more difficult: It now requires the services of a coyote, and the price has jumped to $7,000 to as much as $10,000, depending on the departure point. The least patrolled route is to the east, but crossing those desert lands is only for the desperate. Violent drug cartels have diversified into human trafficking, adding a new danger to the journey, as the horrific massacre of 72 migrants from Central and South America in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas demonstrates. And once migrants arrive, there is little or no work. The unemployment rate for illegal immigrants is now higher than that of native-born and legal workers — a switch from the norm in the earlier part of the decade.

Congress should be using this period to negotiate a fix for the broken immigration system. Despite fewer arrivals, 11 million illegal immigrants remain in the United States, and reform is crucial. But instead of addressing current conditions, the country is awash in political rhetoric more suited to conditions in years past. It is a missed opportunity. Because as soon as the economy rebounds, so will illegal immigration.

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