Along the U.S.-Mexico border fence that passes through Brownsville, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Study: Undocumented immigrants challenge “broken immigration system” to be with families

Say you lived in the U.S. for seven years. Maybe your spouse is here. Possibly your U.S. citizen child and extended family as well. Would that make you risk it all to try to return to the United States, a place you consider your home, to be reunited with your family? A new study says that’s exactly what is happening to many undocumented immigrants.

The study by the University of Arizona’s Center for Latin American Studies sought to examine why undocumented immigrants come to the U.S. and keep trying to enter the country over and over again even after being deported.

“People put down roots, they have families here,” says Jeremy Slack, a primary researcher for the study. “To make them go away, that’s not going to happen.”

The profile of the average person spoken to among  the group of more than 1,100 recently deported immigrants was that of a 31-year-old male who had eight years of formal education and had been in the U.S. seven years. Half have at least one family member who is a U.S. citizen and about one in four have at least one child under the age of 18 who have U.S. citizenship, which is different from the common perception of undocumented immigrants as seasonal laborers and young single men with no real ties to the United States, the report states.

RELATED: How gaming gave an undocumented man deferred status

Slack says the reality that occurred to him after hundreds of interviews with recently deported immigrants was that they would not stop until they reached the U.S. again. “People come out of the desert and they’re dehydrated, they have blisters and broken bones and they tell you, ‘I’m going back.'” He said 25 percent of people say they’re going back that same week and 56 percent say they’re going back in the future.

The issue seems to come down to a significant designation of where the immigrant sees as “home.”

“People who say their home is in the U.S. and not Mexico — 70 percent say they’re going back,” he says.

Many of the undocumented immigrants interviewed were like Carlos, an 18-year-old mentioned in the study.

“There is nothing in Mexico,” he said, recently deported. “There are no jobs, the money isn’t enough. I know it’s not right [to cross again] but it’s just very difficult [economically] in Mexico.”

%d bloggers like this: