Apprehension and the aging of undocumented parents
- March 30, 2022
- Laura Enriquez, UCI Chicano/Latino Studies, and Josefina Flores Morales, UCLA sociology, explain in this piece for Generations
“Popular images of undocumented immigrants often call to mind workers—nannies, gardeners, restaurant staff, factory and field workers, housekeepers—the list goes on. But these popular images present undocumented immigrants as one-dimensional, lone adults present in the United States to toil away. In reality, their lives are more layered.
Undocumented adults are generally members of families, working toward imagined futures for themselves and their families. After decades of working in service of this vision, they find themselves older, their aging bodies struggling to keep up with intensive labor demands. Their children, now young adults, begin to take note that there are few options for their parents’ retirement.
The older undocumented population is growing. In the next two decades, 40% of the undocumented Latinx population will be older than age 55. Facing this reality, undocumented and mixed-status families confront precarious financial futures as the earning potential of their primary breadwinners declines.
But immigration status will likely persist as a source of economic inequality among undocumented older adults, preventing their retirement, a reality that trickles down to their young adult children’s lives, causing worry about how they will support their parents.”
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