By Annalyn Kurtz @CNNMoney
(CNN Money) - What's the most common job for American women?
The same as it was in the 1950s: secretary.
About 4 million workers in the United States fell under the category of "secretaries and administrative assistants" between 2006 and 2010, and 96% of them were women, according to the U.S. Census.
How secretary became women's work
The rise of the secretary began with the Industrial Revolution, which created an enormous amount of paperwork. In the early 20th century, it became a female job as companies realized they could pay women lower wages to do the work.
Secretarial schools offered professional training, which made it possible for many women to enter the career without a full college education.
It wasn't until 1950 that it became the most popular job among women. Back then, 1.7 million women worked in a category the Census defined as "stenographers, typists or secretaries."
While the title has evolved since then, it remains the top female job.
By Isha Sesay and Teo Kermeliotis, CNN
(CNN) - When Peggielene Bartels went to bed on a summer night in 2008, she was an ordinary administrative assistant living in a modest one-bedroom condo just outside Washington D.C.
But a few hours later, when a persistent ringing phone woke her up in the dead of the August night, the 55-year-old found out she was much more than simply a secretary.
Read more: The Lady King of Otuam
At the other end of the line was Bartels's cousin, from Otuam, a small fishing village on the coast of Ghana. Excited and humble, he congratulated her on being the new king of Otuam.
"I said, 'listen, it's 4 o'clock in the morning in the U.S., I am very tired, let me sleep,'" remembers Bartels. "I thought he was trying to really play games with me."
But this was no time for games.
The previous king of Otuam, who was Bartels's uncle, had just died. The village elders, who remembered Bartels from the times she'd visited with her mother, had decided to anoint her as their new ruler.
By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN
(CNN) – Even three years after the fact, Fredi Alcazar Dominguez still trembles thinking about his deportation.
[3:35] "They put you on a bus to the border and then at the border they just leave you at your own risk."
Alcazar Dominguez spent five days in Mexico before crossing the border illegally back into the United States. Then and now he has found himself in a kind of limbo.
The 23-year-old was brought to this country illegally by his parents when he was just eight years old. Deported just shy of his high school graduation, he doesn't qualify for the deferred action enacted by President Barack Obama last year.
Editor's note: Tania Unzueta Carrasco lives in Chicago and was born in Mexico. She is an undocumented immigrant, a journalist, former radio show manager and producer, and co-founder of the Immigrant Youth Justice League, an undocumented youth-led organization.
By Tania Unzueta Carrasco, Special to CNN
(CNN) - How much hope can I have in the president who has deported people at a higher rate than any other in the nation's history?
Asking myself this question is how I kept my emotions in check as I watched President Obama announce his policy on immigration Tuesday. After living undocumented for more than 18 years, and hoping that one day my sister, my parents and I won't be considered "illegal" in this country, my mental health often depends on managing my expectations.
My family and I came to the United States when I was 10 years old from Mexico City, and have grown up thinking of Chicago as our home.
Although my parents have tried to shield us from the effects of being undocumented, we know that my father used to walk the streets looking for work, and that more than once his wages were stolen, with employers using his immigration status as a threat.
I think of my father as the most likely member of our family to be racially profiled, and I worry every time he goes to work. My mom has seen her father only once in the last 18 years, and I know she misses him and her sisters and brothers. And my sister and I are reminded every day of the barriers of being undocumented, when we cannot apply for a job, a scholarship, or pay the bond of a family friend in deportation proceedings.
The first time I watched President Obama speak about immigration, I felt the excitement in my stomach. It was sometime early in his presidency, when many of us still believed he would make significant changes in immigration policy during his first term.
I listened to every word he said - that we are a nation of immigrants - and allowed myself to imagine a life without worrying my dad would not come home; a moment when my mom might get to see her dad and her sisters again without having to chose between our lives here and her family; a chance for my sister and I to be evaluated on our work and contributions and not our immigration status; a moment to live without fear. But the actions of his government failed to match his words.
By CNN Staff
(CNN) - The sudden momentum toward a bipartisan plan to reform the U.S. immigration system has sparked a torrent of discussion about this politically charged and emotional issue. Here's a sampling of voices from across the spectrum of viewpoints:
"Anything other than having these people going home and apply through our regular immigration system that successfully admits over 1 million people every year is amnesty," said a CNN commenter using the screen name ninesixteen. "Allowing them to wait in the U.S. is a reward. Our immigration is deliberately constructed to not let in unlimited numbers. These people violate our laws yet expect to be allowed to stay and work when others wait patiently in their countries. Legalization is wrong."
"Illegal immigration has already put massive and unaffordable burdens on the welfare state and with 20 million or more applying for Amnesty, this will simply accelerate this process," said Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, who argues that the real number of undocumented immigrants in the United States is higher than the frequently cited 11 million figure.
By Dan Lothian, Jessica Yellin and Tom Cohen, CNN
Las Vegas (CNN) - President Barack Obama threw his full support behind a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws on Tuesday, saying "now's the time" to replace a system he called "out of date and badly broken."
Speaking at a majority Hispanic high school in Las Vegas, Obama said "a broad consensus is emerging" behind the issue across the country, with signs of progress in Congress.
However, he acknowledged a fierce debate ahead on an issue he described as emotional and challenging, but vital to economic growth and ensuring equal opportunity for all.
"At this moment, it looks like there's a genuine desire to get this done soon. And that's very encouraging," Obama said, later adding: "This time, action must follow. We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate."
The president spoke a day after eight senators - four from each party - introduced a framework for overhauling the immigration system that would provide an eventual path to citizenship for most of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.
While touted as a breakthrough by its drafters, the plan was similar in many aspects to previous immigration reform efforts that have failed in recent years.
By Dana Ford and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) - Every day, millions of people like 16-year-old Celeste live their lives shouldering a huge emotional weight forged by fear, uncertainty and separation.
She was only 10 years old when the reality of her family's desperate situation hit her in the face.
Rolando Zenteno has lived more than half his 18 years in the United States, yet he still feels like an outsider.
Another undocumented immigrant - Prerna Lal - is fighting to stay in her adopted homeland and dreaming of becoming an immigration lawyer.
As Washington lawmakers try to hammer out an immigration reform plan while avoiding political gridlock, millions of people find themselves caught in the middle - suspended between two worlds - while not really belonging to either.
Some immigrants spoke to CNN, giving permission to use their full names. Others chose to withhold their last names, fearing it would affect their legal status. Here are their stories.
(CNN) - CNN.com has a live blog during the President's speech on immigration, and you can watch the president speak here and on CNN TV.
Editor's note: Bill Richardson was governor of New Mexico for two terms and represented the state's 3rd Congressional District for 15 years. He is chairman of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials' executive advisory service Global Political Strategies and special envoy for the Organization of American States. The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations also is senior fellow for Latin America at Rice University.
Read this article in Spanish
By Bill Richardson, Special to CNN
(CNN) - The stars may finally be aligning for a comprehensive immigration overhaul. Whatever the reasons - and there are many - it's about time.
During my two terms as governor of a border state, there were times when I was hopeful for a breakthrough. But political fear-mongering often ruled the day as immigrants and drugs illegally crossed into the United States and weapons flowed to the south. With every border flare-up, the American public - and their elected leaders - put immigration on the back burner.
I am encouraged by the news that a bipartisan group of senators has crafted a plan and is working on building consensus toward a political way forward. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is also taking an active role and showing leadership on this issue. My hope is that we end up with a truly comprehensive solution that does not tear families apart.
By Ted Barrett, Dana Bash and Deirdre Walsh, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A bipartisan group of senators on Monday introduced a plan for overhauling U.S. immigration policy a day before President Barack Obama was to lay out his plan.
Obama to pitch immigration reform
The eight senators say their plan will secure the border and provide a path to citizenship some undocumented immigrants already in the country.
Critics say the citizenship component is granting amnesty for those who entered the country illegally.
Here are some frequently asked questions on immigration reform:
Q: What's behind this latest immigration reform plan?
A: The new push for immigration reform follows devastating poll results for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who in November won just 27% of the Latino vote. That's down from 44% for President George W. Bush in 2004 and 31% for Sen. John McCain four years ago.
The dramatic slide jolted key Republicans to act quickly on the complex and emotional issue that has divided the parties for years.
Republicans long have argued that Latino voters, many of whom are Catholic and pro-life, would find a home in the GOP if not for the harsh rhetoric some Republicans use to debate illegal immigration.
Democrats also are under pressure to reach a deal. Many Latino voters were disappointed that President Barack Obama didn't work harder in his first term to pass a bill. Immediately after his election, Latino leaders pushed the president to make sure it would be a priority for his second term.
As a signal of how important the issue is for Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced last week an immigration reform bill would be labeled S-1, meaning it's Senate bill No. 1 of the new Congress - and clearly a top priority.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at email@example.com.
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