An immigrant is a person that comes to a country to take up permanent residence. In the United States, the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) administers the federal laws that control immigration into our country. If an immigrant goes through the proper legal process, the USCIS issues them documentation that permits them to reside in the United States. Undocumented immigrants are those individuals residing within the U.S. who have not gone through the proper legal process.
Facts You Should Know
- The term “illegal” started being attached to people coming from South of the border in the mid 1960s, when Bracero Program (authorizing Mexican workers to cross the border) was discontinued.
- In 2005, an opponent to immigrant reform published a memo called The Principles of Language of Immigration Reform. He urged the use of the term ”illegal” to fight immigration reform. Following the memo’s advice, opponents of reform adopted the term “illegal alien.”
- There are one million children under 18 and 4.4 million under 30 living in America out of the estimated total of 11.1 million undocumented immigrants living in America. Nearly half of undocumented adults are parents of minors, many of whom are citizens.
- Except for some emergency care, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for most federally-funded health insurance programs.
- In 2016, the Library of Congress determined the term “illegal aliens” was pejorative and ceased its use, substituting the terms “noncitizens” and “unauthorized immigrants.”
Click here for PDF version of this LWV Immigration Fact Sheet for printing and distribution.
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More Information on Undocumented Immigrants…
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