American Immigration

Hunter Aldenberg, Contributing Writer

With the recent presidential election cycle concluded, our new President- elect has centered his campaign around illegal immigration and the construction of a border wall and organizing a massive deportation effort. Claiming that upwards of 20 million illegal immigrants reside in the US, Donald Trump claims he will be tougher on illegal immigration than any previous president has been. What the President- elect fails to realize is the potential impact a massive deportation would have on our society and economy, and also what repercussions may occur with other crackdowns on illegal immigrants in the US.

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014 there were an estimated 11.1 million illegal immigrants in the US, accounting for approximately 3.5% of the population. This number remains the same as it was in 2009, and has decreased since 2007 when this group was closer to 4% of the population. Although this statistic can be accredited to overall population growth, the amount of unauthorized immigrants has decreased substantially, partially due to the deportations ordered by President Obama and the amnesty programs that were made available by the Obama administration.

Despite only making up 3.5% of the US Population, illegal immigrants account for over 5% of the labor force. This includes those at work and looking for work, according to the Pew Research Center. In correspondence with the population statistics, these numbers have been stabilized since 2009 and are down slightly since 2007. In farming occupations however, unauthorized immigrants make up over 26% of the workforce and in construction they account for 15% of the labor force.

A growing majority of illegal immigrants are beginning to live in the US for longer periods of time. Approximately 66% of adult immigrants in 2014 had lived here for at least 10 years. This number has gradually increased from 44% in 2005. In 2014 the median time adult immigrants had lived in the US was 13.6 years, and only 7% of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico had been here less than 5 years.

Not only do illegal immigrants make up a significant portion of the American workforce, a majority of them have been here for a number of years. With over half of immigrants having lived here for more than a decade, to deport them would be to uproot their entire lives and at that point there is nothing left for them in their home country. Typically, immigrants are able to perform jobs that most Americans would be unwilling to fulfill. For example, most Americans would not work for $9/hour shoveling cow poop on a dairy farm, and those who would, have school during the daytime. With a growing majority of Americans attending college, none of them worked for a Bachelor’s degree in shoveling poop.

So, with Donald Trump advocating for the mass deportation of unauthorized immigrants in the US, but also advocating for a nationwide infrastructure reboot, he might have to reconsider with over 15% of the construction force being illegals. And when it comes to feeding the country, over ¼ of our agricultural economy is powered by illegals. President-elect Trump may have to conduct his immigration policies much differently than he originally planned, and possibly even break some of the promises he made on the campaign trail when he faces the stark reality of America’s immigration issue.


Krogstad, Jens Manuel, Jeffrey S. Passel, and D’Vera Cohn. “5 Facts about Illegal Immigration in the U.S.” Pew Research Center. N.p., 03 Nov. 2016. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.