There are roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. At current, many of these individuals live beneath the protection of the law, and have little legitimate means of attaining citizenship. Because they fear deportation, many of these individuals work in jobs where they are paid in cash, and they do not pay income taxes. Problematically, they are often abused because their employers know that they lack the means of contesting their treatment. These individuals can sometimes be forced into criminal activity because of the difficulty in obtaining work, and they often suffer worse health outcomes because of their fear of going to the hospital.
There are a number of things that have caused the current immigration reality and the current immigration law reality. For one, conditions in Mexico have driven roughly six million immigrants into the United States. They come in search of jobs and safety, looking for a better life for their children. These are people who are able to easily access the US because of the proximity of Mexico and because of somewhat lax border control leading up to the attacks of September 11th. The current legislative landscape is largely the result of competing political interests. Stalls in legislation can be blamed, at least in part, on individuals using immigration as a political football.
Given the massive number of people involved in this, and the millions of children who are implicated, this issue is of massive importance. Hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes are not collected each year because these individuals lack a path to citizenship. In addition, the US government spends significant amounts of money prosecuting and deporting individuals who are found in violation of the law. Coming to a better agreement on a path to citizenship or a more concrete set of immigration doctrines would allow for improved economic prosperity in the future, and would create a better humanitarian reality.