POPULATION AND URBANIZATION
As economic conditions haw worsened in the United States near the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. the issue of immigration remains a source of contention among many people in this country, Some undocumented immigrants.
such as the ones Interviewed above. believe that they have earned the right to remain in the United States because they have worked hard. paid taxes. and supported the nation. On the other hand. some political leaders and conservative activists believe that immigration reform and “closing the borders” are long overdue in this country. According to these analysts. the Obama administration should “fix” this problem along with many others we have looked at. including economic stabilization. scoot reform. and containment of health care costs. Even as tens of thousands of demonstrators haw taken to the streets in past years to proclaim ·We are America” and to ask for legal status and citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. critics argue that immigration will become the! downfall of this nation.
In the United States. as well as in many other nations that have experienced high rates of immigration. questions of permanent residency and citizenship for immigrant workers haw stirred up extensive debates and sometimes produced hostility or violence toward people who are labeled as “illegal immigrants” or “outsiders.’ According to various estimates. between 11.5 million and 12 million unauthorized migrants arc living in the United States. and two-thirds (66 percent)
of this population has been in the country forten years or less. In fact. about 40 percent of the \111- authorized population (about 4.4 million people) has been in the United States for five years or less (Passel. 2006). This upswing in unauthorized immigration has produced a complex debate involving many pressing economic, political, and social issues. and has divided people in this country. By contrast. other factors associated with population growth and urban change. such as the number of live births annually as compared with the number of deaths. have received very little recent attention. In this chapter, we explore the dynamics of population and urbanization, with a focus on how migration, and particularly immigration, affect growth and change in societies s ch as ours. Before reading on. test your knowledge about current U.S. immigration issues by taking the quiz in Box 19.1.