AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Nationally, they make up more than one-fourth of the roofers, dry-wall installers, textile workers, butchers and meat processors, and they are at the center of a national immigration debate as the country becomes reliant on immigrant laborers in retail, hotel and restaurant industries. President George W. Bush has called for a program that would grant temporary guest-worker status to those already here, but Congress has rejected that. The report comes just as Congress prepares to battle once again over immigration policy. The House late last year voted to tighten border security in a sweeping bill that would make undocumented immigrants felons by their very presence and increase penalties for employers who hire them. The Senate, meanwhile, is expected to take up legislation by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., seeking to find middle ground in the debate. Specter’s bill would create a temporary guest-worker program for illegal immigrants who entered the country before Jan. 4, 2004. In Los Angeles, where an estimated one resident in 10 is an undocumented immigrant, local leaders have taken up the cause. On Ash Wednesday, Cardinal Roger Mahony – head of the largest archdiocese in the nation – called on his priests to defy proposed legislation that would force the church to deny service to nonresidents. The same day, the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Maria Elena Durazo, joined major hotel, gaming and lodging associations to lobby senators for full legalization of undocumented workers. Immigration issues have fueled heated debates over day laborers and have even been the source of much racial tension within African-American communities starved for jobs. “We are at a crossroads,” said Fernando Guerra, director for the Center of the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount. “Institutions have to respond irrespective of their politics. They have to respond like the Catholic Church has, like the prison (system) will have to and like the continuing and changing response of the school district.” The U.S. immigration is driven by labor demand, resembling migration patterns from North Africa and Turkey to Europe, Guerra said. Moreover, strong networks of families and friends will continue to draw more illegal immigrants such as Antonio, who now shares a Pacoima house with two other immigrants. He asked that his full name not be used. The Guadalajara, Mexico, native arrived in the country 10 years ago, after his uncle promised him a job pushing an ice cream cart. The job paid $300 a week and provided him enough money to send home. He has never been asked to provide a Social Security card or to answer questions about his legal status. He is reluctant to leave the United States for fear he will never be able to return. The border has become increasingly difficult and dangerous to cross, and a smuggler now charges thousands of dollars. “I have not returned to see my family. I have work here, and it is too restrictive to return,” he said. His case is like thousands of others. “The federal government is the reason that illegals have no problems finding jobs,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates tougher border controls and immigration enforcement. The government fails to crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers, he said. “When you don’t have any effort to maintain legal standards, you have more illegal activity,” he said. Rachel Uranga, (818) 713-3741 email@example.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Beefed-up efforts to tighten the borders have failed to slow the flow of undocumented immigrants and are even discouraging illegal residents from returning to their home country, the author of a study released Tuesday found. A Pew Hispanic Center study found that undocumented immigrants pour past U.S. borders at a rate of 850,000 a year. As they arrive, they are finding a receptive labor market and staying longer. About one out of seven workers in Los Angeles County is now undocumented, compared with about one in 20 nationwide, the study found. “Once they come in, they are actually reluctant to leave,” said Jeffrey Passel, author of the study for the Pew Hispanic Center. Beefed-up border patrols and increased security are having unintended results, deterring many from recrossing the border, he said. “The (U.S.) Border Patrol is actually helping to keep people in the United States, rather than out.” Using Census Bureau data, Pew researchers estimate that 11.5 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants now live in the United States, up from 11.1 million last year and 8.5 million in 2000. About one-third of them arrived within the past 10 years, and more than half are from Mexico.