The New Press Publishes "Living 'Illegal': The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration"

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Book addresses challenges in dealing with nearly 11 million illegal immigrants, their families and "The American Dream."

The United States is home to nearly 11 million unauthorized immigrants. Approximately three quarters of the nation's illegal immigrants are from Latin American, and the majority of them, a total of approximately seven million, are from Mexico. President Obama has deported more unauthorized immigrants than any other president in U.S. history.

"Living Illegal" tackles the issues which come with all these challenges, particularly since 2011 has been an incendiary year for immigration issues. Legislation in Indiana, Utah, Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona has elicited passionate responses on both sides—from hunger strikes to mass activist pilgrimages.

The New York Times recently reported that "deportation is expensive, costing the government at least $12,500 per person, and it often does not work: between October 2008 and July 22 of this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spent $2.25 billion sending back 180,229 people who had been deported before and come back anyway." Despite the Obama administration's expensive border patrol and deportation policies, thousands of unauthorized immigrants risk huge dangers to return to the United States because they consider this country to be their home—where their children go to school and where their lives are.

Until now, we’ve heard very little from immigrants themselves, and those who live, work, and worship alongside them. The New Press is pleased to present "Living 'Illegal': The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration," to be published on Columbus Day, October 10, 2011.

Co-authors Marie Friedmann Marquart, Timothy J. Steigenga, Philip J. Williams, and Manuel Vásquez are available for interview and can discuss:

Common Myths: "Living 'Illegal'” refutes the idea that immigrants take advantage of public benefits and social services while contributing very little, the notion that immigrants are more likely to be associated with criminality and gangs, and concerns that the family values immigrants bring into the country are contrary to those of the nation. In fact, a 2006 Georgia study found that the average undocumented family contributes between almost $2500 in state and local sales, income and property taxes.

State Law and Local Enforcement: With the federal government unable to pass the DREAM Act, some states are passing their own bills to help immigrant students afford an education while others, like Georgia, Alabama and Arizona, are arresting immigrants for minor infractions, jailing and deporting them. "Living 'Illegal'" explores the crippling effects of this type of strategy on one community, Cobb County, Georgia, which was among the first counties to implement the controversial 287(g) program and suffered severe losses because of the resulting shortage of 11,080 agricultural workers this past summer.

Faith Communities: "Living 'Illega'l” examines the ways in which churches increasingly bear the burden of assuaging the community’s pain. "Living 'Illegal'” focuses on a number of churches including St. Thomas the Apostle in Georgia, where lay leaders and clergy are working on the front lines of responding to the detention and deportation of immigrants and, in the process, rejuvenating religious life in the US, largely through their work with unauthorized immigrants.

Solutions: "Living 'Illegal'” explores the case of El Sol, a community in Florida, in which local government, service providers, religious groups, and voluntary organizations banded together with immigrants in their community to find a better solution to the real problems that accompany unauthorized immigration.

"Living 'Illegal'” puts a face on unauthorized immigration, reminding us of the high human and social costs of forgetting that real lives hang in the balance, and that entire communities are affected by misguided enforcement strategies.

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Julie McCarroll
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