Migrant brings his family to Colorado | VailDaily.com

Migrant brings his family to Colorado

Brady McCombs

GREELEY – Wearing dark sunglasses and a white bandana to cover his head and neck from the beating sun, Alberto Dominguez saunters up and down the rows of planted carrots using his hoe to clear the weeds. Dominguez, 34, of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, has worked in the Weld County fields for the past 13 years, coming and going from Mexico. But this year, he decided to bring his wife and four children to Colorado. They crossed the El Paso, Texas, border with tourist visas. “We were always separated,” Dominguez said, “and I thought it would be better to be unified.” In the past decade, Dominguez’s story has become more commonplace than any other immigrant tale in the United States. Dominguez is one of the 10.3 million “unauthorized migrants” who account for 29 percent of the foreign-born population in the United States, according to a recent study completed by the Pew Hispanic Center. The study also reveals that migrants have been coming to the country at greater rates than legal immigrants since 1995. Two-thirds of migrants in the country today have been in the country for less than 10 years. Colorado ranks among the top 10 “settlement states,” ranking behind California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia with between 200,000 to 250,000 migrants, the study said. In terms of unauthorized growth, Colorado falls among the top five states in the nation, with illegal immigrants accounting for between 48 percent and 54 percent of the foreign-born population in the state. Penny Gonzales-Soto, immigrant and refugee program supervisor for Catholic Charities Northern, said it’s nice to see a study that confirms many of the long-thought assumptions about the immigrant population. She found it most interesting that Colorado is in the category of the “very highest” states for new unauthorized migrant growth, she said. Safer in GreeleyDominguez first came to Denver 13 years ago because he had a friend there. He didn’t like the big city and roamed north to Weld County, where he found work in the agriculture industry and a relaxed environment in Greeley. He brought his family this year to give his four children better educational and career opportunities, he said. His two older sons, 13 and 9, and oldest daughter, 12, will enroll in elementary and middle schools next year. Dominguez said he’ll need to find another job soon to pay for the clothes and books they’ll need. He said he feels safer in Greeley than in Ciudad Juarez, a border city where gangs and delinquents run the street. He said he’s never had trouble with his lack of documentation in his 13 years and always manages to obtain adequate documents to satisfy employers. He gets paid in checks that he said he usually cashes at Jerry’s Market or Wal-Mart. Dominguez said it doesn’t bother him when people call for him and other illegal immigrants to return to Mexico.”It doesn’t bother me because America is ours,” said Dominguez in Spanish. “This used to be Mexico … I don’t feel bad at all.” ‘Anchor babies’The study reveals complicated family structures that could present dilemmas for lawmakers considering amnesty or guest-worker legislation. For instance, nearly one-third of families headed by illegal immigrants have children who are U.S. citizens, creating “mixed families.” These children could become so-called “anchor babies,” citizens who can later petition for legal status for other family members. In addition, more than half of the men and 81 percent of the women are married. President Bush has publicly called for an overhaul of immigration policies and said he supported a temporary guest-worker program. A recent proposal from Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts would include giving temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants already in the United States so they could work without fear of arrest or deportation. The question remains, how will they handle the children and spouses of these workers and their contrasting documentation status? Gonzales-Soto has seen these mixed-families for years in Greeley and Weld County and worries what the future holds for them. “You have kids who are our future and who are their parents? They are probably unauthorized immigrants,” Gonzales-Soto said. “What are those kids’ values going to be considering the way we treat their parents?” Additionally, the study found that unauthorized migrants have less education, make less money, and are less likely to have health insurance than legal immigrants and U.S. natives. Vail, Colorado

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