Contributed By:

Cat Vasquez

As We Are: Migrant Workers

OPB | Nov. 21, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:46 p.m.

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craig.camp / Flickr / Creative Commons None

Whether or not we live in this country legally plays a key role in just about every aspect of our lives. Documentation, or a lack thereof, determines what kind of work we can get, what education we can obtain, and what resources we can access.

According to government estimates, there are nearly 12 million “unauthorized residents” in the US — people who have entered the US without inspection or who were admitted temporarily and stayed past the date they were required to leave. The vast majority come from Mexico and Central America.

As this population has increased, so have efforts to deport people without documentation. This past year marked a record high in deportations in the Northwest. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported more than 10,000 people from Oregon, Washington and Alaska between September 2007 and September 2008, a 38 percent increase over the previous year. And the Northwest isn’t alone. ICE deportations have increased across the country.

As part of our ongoing As We Are series, we’ll take a look at the personal stories behind the immigration debate. We’ll talk to people who immigrated to the United States from Mexico, legally or illegally, in order to find work. We’ll be asking what brought them to the US and the Northwest, what their lives are like here, and if they intend to return to the place they were born.

Did you immigrate to this country? What led you to the US? How does life in the US compare to your life before you came? And have recent ICE crackdowns — along with the downturn in the economy, and a slowdown in work — led you to consider returning to your native country?

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