Editor's note: Erwin Chang is director of special studies at Magaña Research Worldwide, Los Cabos, Mexico.

The population of unauthorized Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. is considerable and ranges between 11 and 22 million people1,2,3. However, there has been a lack of nationwide quantitative studies based on the perspectives of unauthorized Hispanic immigrants regarding their immigration stories, life, perceptions and attitudes towards American culture and society. As a result, it is hard to understand the main problems created by this social phenomenon and to find plausible solutions. 

Thus, the study profiled in this article tries to close the knowledge gap by focusing on various topics related to unauthorized Hispanic immigration in the U.S., including what would make the immigrants return to their country of origin; factors that influence their lives in the U.S.; crime; their political orientation; and their perspectives on the Trump administration.

One reason that prevents research organizations from conducting studies with unauthorized Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. is the difficulty of finding and convincing them to participate in a study. For instance, they may be afraid of talking to undercover officials from the U.S. government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and refuse to identify themselves as an unauthorized or undocumented immigrant. 

Moreover, they learn that it is better to hide their immigration status to get or keep a job and do not want to be regarded as a type of pariah. Therefore, they feel uneasy taking part in this type of study. 

Another challenge involves obtaining data that is representative of the unauthorized immigrant community. Although it might be easy to intercept Hispanics at Hispanic shopping centers, such data might be deemed neither adequate nor representative since it will be limited to certain demographics. 

Online surveys ...