Friday, May 31, 2013


The Migration Policy Institute recently gave some fascinating estimates on the numbers and age groups of the 11,000,000 unauthorized immigrants living in our country.

The unauthorized population is a young population, and it also includes a relatively small number of children.  The largest group is comprised of young adults.

In 2011, there were 1.15 million unauthorized immigrant children ages 18 and under, accounting for 10% of the total population.

By contrast, 24% of the total US population was under age 18 in the 2010 Census.  The vast majority of children with unauthorized immigrant parents (82%) are US born and therefore citizens.

Young adults comprise a large majority of unauthorized immigrants:  72% are ages 19 to 44.  By contrast, just 36% of the total US population is ages 18 to 44.

Because so many unauthorized immigrants are young, very few are in retirement or near retirement ages.  Just 17% of these immigrants are ages 45 to 64, versus 26% of the total population.  And only 1% of these immigrants are age 65 or older, versus 13% of the total population.

These data lead me to two important opportunities:

1.  For the Church

     It is imperative that our Church understand the presence of so many young adults within the immigrant population, and that new and attractive pastoral outreach efforts towards this population be set in motion across the Church.

     This young population need to be more involved in the life and the mission of the Church, and must be given pastoral leadership roles in order to develop the dynamic programs needed to attract and retain them within our Church community.

2.  For the Country

     With 10,000 baby boomers retiring every single day beginning back in 2011, our immigrants will be desperately needed in two ways.  First, as baby boomers leave the active work force, replacement workers must be found.  This requires far better education and training in math, science, computer sciences, medical technologies, and elder care.  Schools for our immigrants must emphasize courses and degrees that equip them to take these jobs.

     Second, a very large workforce will be required to provide all of the medical care for retiring baby boomers, as well as in-home assistance, meals on wheels programs, and all forms of elder care.  Our immigrants will be needed to provide this growing and expanding workforce.

As debate in Congress continues with a comprehensive immigration reform plan, we cannot lose sight of the valued presence and great need for the gifts and skills of our immigrant brothers and sisters. 

Actually, we simply won't be able to get along without them!