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Another (urgent) reason Congress needs to pass immigration reform

LatinaLista — A new brief released by the U.S. Census, Noncitizens Under Age 35: 2010-2012, reveals several important reasons why passing immigration reform would not only help the nation’s economy but create a more just society.

Data from the 2010-2012 American Community Survey shows there are 10.3 million noncitizen individuals under the age of 35 — 80 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34-years of age. It is the prime age group for college students, graduates, entrepreneurs and participants in the labor force — if they could afford college via in-state tuition or federal financial aid and put their degrees and skills to work — legally.

The brief underscores the senselessness of throwing away human potential that exists in the country, and should be used to carry the nation forward.

Unfortunately, the current immigration system is creating two classes of young people. According to the brief, while citizens, ages 25-34, work in such fields as management, business, science and art (39 percent); and 25 percent work in sales and office jobs, with 18 percent in service occupations, the reverse is happening among noncitizen young people.

Noncitizens in the civilian labor force age 25 to 34 were more likely to work in service occupations (27 percent); followed by management, business, science and arts occupations (25 percent); and natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations (20 percent).

The skills and talents of this untapped reservoir of human potential will be needed by businesses in the not too distant future. The panic has already set in Europe where companies like Nestlé SA have launched recruitment campaigns to find young people to replace its retiring workforce. The United States is not far behind in having more retirees than skilled young people to take their places.

It’s because of current immigration policies that undocumented young people under 35, especially Latinos, don’t have the motivation to develop themselves, or see the value of more schooling, when the job market is closed to them even with a degree in hand.

A situation that doesn’t have to be this way and needs to change for the US to grow and be prepared for what tomorrow brings to the country and everyone who calls the U.S. home.

Additional revelations in the brief are:

  • Almost one-third of the 2.6 million noncitizens age 18 to 24 living in the U.S. were enrolled in college. Among 18- to 24-year-old noncitizens born in Asia, 65 percent were enrolled in college, followed by those born in Europe (54 percent), Africa (54 percent) and the Latin America and Caribbean region (18 percent).
  • More than 64 percent of the 10.3 million noncitizens in the U.S. under the age of 35 were born in Latin America and the Caribbean. Asia (23 percent) made up the second highest group of under age 35 noncitizens in the U.S., followed by Europe (6 percent).
  • California had 2.3 million noncitizens under age 35, the most of any state. Following California were Texas (1.3 million), New York (916,000), Florida (747,000) and Illinois (450,000).
  • Metropolitan areas with the largest number of noncitizens under age 35 included New York (1.2 million) and Los Angeles (927,000), with Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Miami all at about 400,000

(Editor’s Note: This article was updated to reflect that the US Census brief referred only to noncitizens. According to a spokesperson for the US Census Bureau: The Census Bureau does not collect information on the number of undocumented individuals in the U.S.)

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