Standard Article

Undocumented residents in the United States

Migration A–Z

U

  1. Helen B. Marrow

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm554

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Marrow, H. B. 2013. Undocumented residents in the United States. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

Abstract

One of the most significant trends in contemporary American immigration is the growth of what is called the “undocumented”, “unauthorized”, or “illegal” immigrant population. Although these terms carry distinct political connotations, in this essay all refer to a group of people who are residing in the United States but who are not US citizens, have not been admitted for permanent residence, and are not in a set of specific authorized temporary statuses permitting longer-term residence and work. This is regardless of whether such people initially entered the United States unlawfully (what is called “entered without inspection” in official terminology) or lawfully using visas they later overstayed (“visa overstayers”). While some scholars argue that the term “unauthorized” is most accurate, since many undocumented immigrants do have “documents” even though they are not officially valid, the terms “undocumented” and “illegal” are also prevalent in American media, political, and everyday discourse.

Keywords:

  • immigration;
  • labor;
  • labor supply;
  • poverty;
  • American borderlands;
  • criminal justice