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Sharing the American Dream

The American Dream, the belief that through hard work and determination anyone can achieve a better life, has attracted immigrants to the United States since its beginning. For many, today as in the past, America is the land of opportunity, of freedom, and of dreams. According to the, Over 50 million immigrants reside in America–nearly one in six people. An estimated 11.2 million immigrants are undocumented, or without legal status. Most immigrants arrive legally but struggle to remain legal: 22.5 million non-citizen immigrants have entered the country with student, work, or other visas; of the 40 million immigrants with legal status, less than half–17.5 million–have achieved citizenship before their visas expire and when non-citizen immigrants overstay their visas they become undocumented. In addition, others cross the Mexican or Canadian border illegally. These undocumented immigrants face tremendous challenges finding jobs and housing. In addition, they and their children born in the United States live daily with the fear of deportation. Some Americans promote the strict enforcement of deportation laws while others support amnesty programs for undocumented immigrants, or at least for immigrants’ children born in the U.S. In the midst of these conflicting circumstances, lawyers and lawmakers struggle with complex and politically charged immigration government policy–as well as the question of policy reform.


The information and narratives collected from Storify reflect the extreme diversity of public opinion about immigration. Not only undocumented immigrants are struggling with this issue; everyone in the country has been dealing with immigration reform, in a variety of ways, for years. Recently, immigration policy has moved in opposite directions: several states, most notably Arizona, have enacted hostile laws that make it more difficult for undocumented and naturalized immigrants while the federal government has made it easier for some undocumented immigrants to remain in the country and has ruled against some state laws, including Arizona’s. Public opinion remains split and in this election year immigration reform is already in the spotlight. Ultimately, the outcome of immigration policy decisions affects the lives of millions of native-born Americans, naturalized citizens, non-citizen immigrants, and undocumented immigrants.