Illegal Immigration in the United States

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Illegal Immigration has become a widely debated topic in the United States in the past few years. Although immigration has always been an important topic in American politics, it has only recently became a major issue to many citizens. I would like to present some information I have found, a few reasons immigration may be done illegally, and how it is done. I can also provide information about their countries of origin, their life in the United States, jobs, legalization, and deportation.

Recent figures can help estimate the current number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States today. There are around eleven million illegal immigrants in the United States as of 2015 (1). Forty-five percent of immigrants originating from Mexico are residing in the United States illegally, which is substantial when considering how many immigrants are from Mexico. Mexico accounts for twenty-six percent of all immigration,, and about half of the illegal immigration in the United States. Despite the large amount of illegal immigrants from Mexico, the total number of illegal immigrants living in the united states has declined by over one million since 2007 (2).

The population of illegal immigrants is not spread evenly throughout the country. Eighty-two percent of illegal immigrants are occupied in just fourteen states. These states consist of seven traditional destinations, and a few more recent destinations. The seven traditional destinations are California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Texas. The newer destinations include Arizona, Colorado, and Washington in the west, as well as Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia in the east (1). Illegal Mexican immigrants make the majority of illegal immigrants in many states. In New Mexico ninety-one percent of illegal immigrants are from Mexico. In Idaho seventy-nine percent are from Mexico. Seventy-eight percent of illegal Arizona immigrants are from Mexico, Seventy-eight in Oklahoma, seventy-seven in Wyoming, and sixty-nine percent in California. California has the highest population of unauthorized immigrants of any state, more than 1.5 million in 2016 (2).

The gender of unauthorized immigrants as of 2011 is nearly evenly divided, with fifty-three percent being male, and forty-seven percent being female. Despite the overall even distribution, estimates for individual age ranges are less even. Ages under eighteen to forty-four have more men immigrating, and ages forty-five and higher consist of more women immigrating. The ages of illegal immigrants is uneven as well. The largest age group of illegal immigrants is ages twenty-five to thirty-four with a total of 3.8 million. Ages thirty-five to forty-four come in a close second with a total of 3.1 million. Ages eighteen to twenty-four total of 1.6 million. Both age groups of under eighteen and forty-five to fifty-four come in at 1.3 million each. Ages fifty-five and over only consist of half a million(3).

These immigrants have motives for immigrating, these are push and pull factors. A trend between 2000 and 2013 shows a peak of unauthorized mexican immigrants in 2007, and a decline afterwards. This decline can be attributed to a weak labor market in the United States, a drop in birth rates in Mexico, aggressive immigration enforcement, and improved employment opportunities in Mexico (1). More factors that induce illegal immigration are relative wages and chance of successful entry.

In the eleven year span between 1995 and 2006, over four thousand fatalities were documented, that were caused attempts to cross the border. The most common causes of death from these crossings were dehydration and hypothermia. Professional people smugglers dubbed “coyotes” are hired to help get people across the border. Although coyotes were popular among immigrants in the 1980s, they have seen the most usen after 1993. The coyotes guide immigrants through difficult to cross areas, provide fake documents, and transport immigrants to locations where their families can pick them up. Due to demand for these services, prices have increased to three or four times their original price (4).

Although most immigrants come from Mexico, other countries of origin are significant factors in illegal immigration. The main contributors in descending order are Mexico, Central America, Asia, South America, Europe, Canada, Oceania, Africa, and the Caribbean. The 6.1 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico are distributed widely between forty states, but the majority are in California and Texas. Guatemala is the second-largest country of origin for illegal immigrants at a population of 704,000. Undocumented Guatemalan immigrants can be found in large numbers in thirty-eight states, with most in California, but a surprising amount found on the east coast. Ten of the twelve states with the largest guatemalan populations are on the east coast. There are 436,000 undocumented immigrants from El Salvador if you exclude 212,000 protected under TPS. Most El Salvador immigrants reside in California and Texas, with most of the remainders living on the east coast. Twenty percent of the El Salvador population lives in the District of Columbia and Maryland, Virginia, making El Salvador the group of unauthorized immigrants with the highest concentration in the D.C. area. 317,000 illegal Hondurans reside in the United States, excluding 64,000 TPS protected immigrants.

The larger groups of Honduran immigrants can be found in Texas, Florida, California, and Louisiana. Most of the 690,000 undocumented South American immigrants inhabit New York, Florida, and New Jersey. The illegal Asian populace mostly occupy California at 400,000 of 1.5 million immigrants. An Asian presence can also be found in traditional destinations such as New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Illinois. Europe, Canada, and Oceania are ethnically similar and follow similar settlement patterns. These regions settle in traditional destinations such as California, New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Texas. African illegals live in New York, California, New Jersey, and Texas. African immigrants can also be found in significant numbers in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The relatively small number of unauthorized immigrants from the Caribbean total 260,000 are most concentrated in New York (1).

Many of these undocumented immigrants receive unfair treatment in wage exploitation. Wages of legal Mexican immigrants are forty percent higher than undocumented workers. Undocumented workers that become legal see significant wage growth within four years of legalization. Discrimination and exploitation is still a major problem that unauthorized immigrants face. It is established that undocumented workers receive lower wages, and work conditions are another concern. Immigrant exploitation has received media attention and academic study, such as a 1995 case with Thai and Hispanic workers receiving incredibly low wages in an unpleasant sweatshop, resulting in sweatshop raids in El Monte, California. Sweatshop owners were later forced to compensate workers with proper payment. Undocumented immigrants even face low wages in jobs other than sweatshops, with wages being forty percent lower than other workers in the same field(5).

The DACA program was announced in 2012, and allowed eligible unauthorized youths to defer deportation and work for two years. The DACA program over-represents Mexican immigrants for eligibility within the unauthorized population. Sixty-one percent of immigrants that are eligible immediately are Mexican despite being just twenty-nine percent of the United States foreign-born population. 1.2 million to 1.6 million illegal immigrants are eligible for the DACA program currently. 749,000 applications have been accepted by the USCIS, and the application rate is between forty-eight and sixty-four percent(1).

Mexicans accounted for less than half of apprehensions at United States borders in 2017, meaning more non-Mexicans were apprehended. Apprehensions of Mexicans has severely declined, from 1.6 million in 2000 to just 130,000 apprehensions in 2017. This is a reflection of overall decrease in illegal immigration from Mexico. In 2005 a policy made deportation more likely following apprehensions. This results in overall numbers of deportations being higher after 2005. There were 245,000 deportations of Mexicans in 2016, which is higher than s 2005 figure of 169,000, but less than a recent peak of 308,000 in 2013. Prior to 2005 many illegal immigrants were returned to their home country without formal deportation orders(2).

Immigrants that live in the United States under Temporary Protected Status have a questionable future as the government looks to end permission to stay in the country for many immigrants. 318,000 immigrants live in the United States under TPS after fleeing disasters in their home countries. Many Immigrants will lose eligibility for TPS in the near future, and will have to travel back to their country of origin as TPS does not automatically give immigrants permanent citizenship or residency(6).

Immigration detention is designed to prevent unauthorized immigrants from fleeing persecution or avoiding deportation. There are two main types of detention centers. Pre-admission is for immigrants who are not allowed in the United States. Pre-expulsion is for immigrants that have had permission, but have expired their permission. These detention centers are not formal punishment, but are used to deter illegal immigrants from the United States.

Illegal Immigration is a risky and involved process. Unauthorized immigrants face many difficulties along the process, and do not always successfully immigrate. Immigrants are exploited and face deportation, but their are government programs for eligible immigrants to be allowed temporary permission to live in the United States

Cite this paper

Illegal Immigration in the United States. (2020, Sep 06). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/illegal-immigration-in-the-united-states/

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