Representational image
Representational image AFP

Out of the roughly 10.5 million unauthorized migrants living in the United States in 2021 (the latest period for which data is available, according to the Pew Research Center), some 7.5 million come from Latin American countries.

And out of this total, the majority of them is regularly worried about the possibility that they or their family members may be detained or deported, according to a new survey by KFF.

The study, which delved into several aspects of Latinos' lives in the U.S., shows that even immigrants who are naturalized citizens have the same worry (20%), this also being the case for holders of green cards or some other valid visas (42%).

"Largely reflecting the higher shares who are likely undocumented, Hispanic immigrants from Central America (48%) and Mexico (46%) are more likely to express concern about detention or deportation than are Hispanic immigrants from South America (32%) or the Caribbean (23%)," the study adds.

According to the Pew Research Center, out of the total undocumented population, a little over four million are Mexicans, while 2.1 million are from Central America. Over half a million made the travel from the Caribbean and some 825,000 thousand did so from South America.

Undocumented in the U.S.
A large majority of undocumented immigrants has changed their behavior because of their status KFF

The picture is completed by 1.65 million unauthorized migrants from Asia, 675,00 thousand from Europe and Canada, 325,000 thousand from Africa, 170,000 from the Middle East and 70,000 from Oceania.

This fear from Latinos in the U.S. translates into behavioral changes, as many say they avoid certain activities to not draw attention to their or their family members' immigration status.

"This includes about one in five (21%) Hispanic immigrants overall, rising to nearly half (46%) of those who are likely undocumented, who say they have avoided things such as talking to the police, applying for a job, or traveling because they didn't want to draw attention to their or a family member's immigration status," the study says.

Moreover, a little over 10% said they have avoided applying for a government program that helps pay for food, housing or health care during the past year because of this reason, a figure that climbs to over 30% for likely undocumented respondents.

In regards to treatment by authorities, most Latino immigrants said they feel they were treated fairly, but one third said it was not the case for them. The figures vary depending on whether they are likely undocumented or not, and based on geographic origin, as 94% of immigrants from the Caribbean said they have been treated fairly.

Finally, a "majority (55%) of Hispanic immigrants, including about seven in ten (72%) of those who are likely undocumented," said they don't have enough information about the country's immigration policy to understand how it affects them and their family.

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