A new chapter is being written in America's immigration story. This time, the usual debates about illegal residents, jobs, social services, cultural identity and economics are complicated by national-security fears. The issue crosses ideological lines, making a solution extremely difficult to find.
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Young men scale a border fence in Agua Pietra, Mexico.
Old fears over new faces
U.S. immigration is a long-running drama with a regularly changing cast — from the Irish and Italians of yesteryear to the Mexicans and other Latinos of today. But one thing has remained constant: the concerns voiced over the influx of newcomers.
Millions live among us: Do they hurt or help?
The number of illegal immigrants in the United States has grown by up to 500,000 a year recently, officials say, but experts can't agree on the total number now here. There's also continuing debate on the net impact on this country.
Dispatches from the frontier
Though only half as long as the boundary with Canada, the U.S. border with Mexico is marked by a combination of conflict and cooperation, of mounting tensions and shared aspirations.
LEGAL OPTIONS FOR IMMIGRANTS
U.S. residency: going for the green
Family ties, certain jobs and even the luck of the draw can ease the way of those wanting to live permanently in the United States. But those paths usually are blocked for immigrants who already have entered the country illegally.
THE NATIONAL DEBATE
Many proposals, no consensus
Send in the military? Set up guest-worker programs? Crack down on companies that hire illegal immigrants? Build more fences? Every suggestion stirs up opposition, much of it citing related failures of the past.
Building wealth, not walls
Rather than concentrating on border enforcement, some say the U.S. should follow the lead of Europe, where well-to-do countries subsidize poorer ones. Others say Mexico must change its ways to provide its people more opportunities at home. The price of living next to a country with a fraction of your wealth is a lot of immigration, wanted or not.