Citizenship status is thought to confer many benefits that should put migrant populations on a trajectory to the middle class. As previously noted, Latinos in Maine are predominantly born in the United States. Latinos speculate that there have been more foreign-born Latinos moving to the state since the 2000 census, but there is presently no quantitative evidence to demonstrate this. Of the 16.7 percent of Latinos who were foreign born in 2000, slightly over half (51.2 percent) were naturalized citizens.
However, concerns are being raised that unauthorized migration could interfere with Latinos’ continued integration into the state’s economic and social life. Latinos’ growing presence in the state and the presence of unauthorized Latino migrants have become a concern to some Maine residents. In 2006, on three occasions, the police in Ellsworth apprehended and detained unauthorized Latino migrants. They subsequently turned them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. In the December 2006 incident, three men were turned over to ICE officials after they were stopped for driving a motor vehicle with a broken window. The driver did not show a valid driver’s license, and the police officer detained all men.5 Some fear occurrences such as this highlight how concerns over unauthorized migration hinder the ability of Latinos to participate socially and economically in the state, even though the state’s Latinos are overwhelmingly U.S. born and U.S. citizens.