During the past decade, millions of Latin American migrants have left their homes and risked death on the perilous journey to the United States in search of a chance to live the ‘American Dream.’ Once here, many of these migrants face economic exploitation, live under the increasing specter of criminality and confront a right-wing political movement dedicated to their removal from American society. Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants have contributed greatly to the economy and are transforming American culture in communities across the nation. How the world’s wealthiest nation integrates the estimated 12 million undocumented Latino immigrants will define the future of this country for decades.

The struggle about how best to define and treat this growing and increasingly influential population is one of the most vital and complex issues our nation faces. Although many agree that the current immigration system is not working, few can find common language or understanding to forge effective solutions.  

 

This story is part of Jon Lowenstein long-term project about immigration: Shadow Lives USA.

Day laborer displays pride
Mexican migrants wait to cross into the United States.
A Mexican migrant crosses the Rio Grande on his way to the United States near McAllen, Texas.
Body of dead Latino Migrant in desert
Day laborers wait for work
Detained migrants are taken away in a Border Patrol truck.
Latino migrant workers plant cabbage.
Neo-Nazi Anti-immigration rally
Men hold American flag at immigration march in 2006
During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these
During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these
Birthday party in back yard of Mexican migrant family on Chicago's South Side.
Girl looks at camera through fire
Man walks in Tijuana near US/Mexico border line.
Two teenagers murdered along a highway on the outskirts of Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Border patrol training exercise in New Mexico.
Outdoor prayer service in Reynosa, Mexico.
Mexican man digs hole in ground with shovel and hands
Mexican woman cooks on open fire.
Dead pig head and pig in rural Mexico.
During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these
Juan and Conchi Nino baptize their daughter in their hometown church in Copala, Mexico.