Jose likes soccer. He likes his car. And he loves his family, which is why he left Mexico for the United States when he was 17, started working, and now sends about 20 percent of his pay to support them in Mexico. Like many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, Jose came here for opportunities that don't exist at home.

“We’re not criminals,” said Jose, which is not his real name. “We just come here to seek a better life.”

Indeed, economic necessity is the reason people risk their lives to work in the United States. And contrary to rhetoric that immigrants steal American jobs and drive down wages, research shows that immigrant labor is a necessity to the U.S. economy:

- The Arizona economy would shrink by $48.8 billion, or 20 percent, if all undocumented workers left the state (Immigration Policy Center, March 2011)
- Immigration improves employment, productivity and income but needs adjustments that respond to the economic cycle (Migration Policy Institute, June 2010)
- Hispanic immigrants contributed $9.2 billion to the North Carolina economy in 2006 and created 89,000 spinoff jobs (UNC-Chapel Hill's Kenan Flagler Business School, Jan. 2006)

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Photography and Videography: Laura Elizabeth Pohl

Multimedia Production and Additional Video: Brad Horn

Additional Audio: Molly Marsh

Interviews and Translation: Ivone Guillen

Graphics: Hilary Kay Doran

Music: Scabeater, Giorgio Boffa, Sambodhi Prem

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