A new report says Nevada's population growth is being fueled in part by a growing number of undocumented immigrants. And, they're coming here for the same reason many others are- jobs.
Population growth follows economic opportunity, and that's causing some changes shifts in immigration patterns. At one time it was states like California that drew most of the influx. Now it's others like Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Nevada.
Nevada is growing and immigrants often fill jobs created by growth. Many of them are undocumented. A majority from Mexico holding jobs that are concentrated in the construction and tourism industries. And many are long term residents. Juan -that's not his real name - came here from Mexico in 1989. He's been here ever since working first in restaurants, but now in construction.
Juan has plenty of company. A report from the Pew Hispanic Center estimates 40 percent of the state's foreign born population are here illegally. Ineligible for most social services, they work to survive and support family back home. The flip side of this phenomenon is that they now form a sizeable portion of the state's economy. A study done by the Center on Work and Community Development in Chicago. Estimates Hispanic immigrants account for nearly $20 billion dollars of Nevada's economy.
Juan says he hopes to gain legal status one day, if for no other reason than he can journey home to see family he's helped support all these years. In the meantime, he'll continue to work.