That figure may seem relatively small compared to the national total of 11 million immigrants who lack a green card or some other form of legal status. But 85,000 is still a lot of people; it is enough to equal the size of Duluth and it is more than the entire city of St. Cloud. It represents 1.6 percent of Minnesota’s total population.
Last week, the U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform bill that would create paths to legal status for undocumented people. The House of Representatives has not yet taken action.
Whatever the House does, millions of people will be affected. And it isn’t only immigrants themselves who have an interest in the outcome. Business, labor and religious groups have also raised their voices in support of reform.
Undocumented people of Mexican heritage are particularly impacted by immigration laws. This is unavoidable, because nearly 60 percent of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are Mexicans.
Minnesota isn’t Texas or California, but many immigrants from Mexico have settled here as well as in those larger states on the border. There are vibrant Mexican immigrant communities on the West Side of St. Paul, elsewhere in the Twin Cities, and in Worthington and across southwestern Minnesota.
Even if Congress does pass an overhaul of immigration laws, undocumented immigrants from Mexico and other countries would not immediately gain U.S. citizenship immediately. It would take time, and there would be fines and back taxes to be paid. But in Minnesota, as in the rest of the nation, tens of thousands of immigrants are eagerly awaiting this opportunity.
Source: MinnPost, “Minnesota’s immigrant community smaller than most, but still cheers reform,” Devin Henry, July 3, 2013