Undocumented But In Demand: Immigration And Labor In America "It's fair to say that a lot of Americans don't want to do this kind of backbreaking work," reporter Alexia Campbell told us. "They have better options, especially at a time like this."

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Undocumented But In Demand: Immigration And Labor In America

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Undocumented But In Demand: Immigration And Labor In America

1A

Undocumented But In Demand: Immigration And Labor In America

Undocumented But In Demand: Immigration And Labor In America

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/757104217/757188495" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Chicken parts sit in a cooler for sale in the El Mercado Market in "Kimmeytown", an area of Georgetown, Delaware. It became a Guatemalan neighborhood beginning in the 1990's, because it's within walking distance of a Perdue chicken processing plant, which employs a large number of people from Latin American who live in town. JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES hide caption

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JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Chicken parts sit in a cooler for sale in the El Mercado Market in "Kimmeytown", an area of Georgetown, Delaware. It became a Guatemalan neighborhood beginning in the 1990's, because it's within walking distance of a Perdue chicken processing plant, which employs a large number of people from Latin American who live in town.

JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Last month, immigration agents raided seven poultry plants in Mississippi. They arrested nearly 700 migrants suspected of working in the country without authorization.

It was the biggest ICE enforcement operation in a single state. It also put more attention to the Trump administration's crackdown on undocumented workers — people the U.S. economy relies on.

According to the Pew Research Center, there are 7.6 million unauthorized workers in the country. That's nearly five percent of the workforce. They're even more prevalent in industries like agriculture, restaurants and construction — often in jobs that don't pay much but require hard physical labor.

Americans want solutions to undocumented immigration, and we want to keep our economy humming along.

How do we reconcile these two issues, especially when our economy keeps humming partly because undocumented immigrants work here?

To answer these questions, we spoke with Alexia Fernandez Campbell, a reporter covering labor issues at Vox; Angela Stuesse, a professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina; Kevin Hiebert, the CEO of Load Trail — a trailer manufacturer that was raided last year for hiring undocumented immigrants; Mike Holland, chief operating office of The Marek Companies — a Houston-based construction firm; and Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute's office at the NYU School of Law.

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