Illegal immigration to the United States

Illegal immigration to the United States

Illegal immigration to the United States refers to the act of foreign nationals voluntarily resettling in the United States in violation of U.S. immigration and nationality law.

Residing in the United States in violation of immigration law is not a crime but a civil infraction. ["Being illegally present in the U.S. has always been a civil, not criminal, violation of the INA, and subsequent deportation and associated administrative processes are civil proceedings. Criminal violations of the INA, on the other hand, include felonies and misdemeanors and are prosecuted in federal district courts. These types of violations include the bringing in and harboring of certain undocumented aliens (INA §274), the illegal entry of aliens (INA §275), and the reentry of aliens previously excluded or deported (INA §276)." [ Immigration Enforcement Within the United States] , Congressional Research Service report for Congress, Order Code RL33351 (April 6, 2006)] Various other unlawful immigration-related acts, depending on the circumstances, may be criminal and/or civil offenses. For example, forging immigration documents is a crime, while Illegal entry by eluding immigration officials is a misdemeanor.

The illegal immigrant population of the United States is estimated to be about 12 million people. [cite news
title=Illegal immigrants in the US: How many are there?
author=Brad Knickerbocker
publisher=The Christian Science Monitor
date=May 16, 2006
] Pew Hispanic Center has estimated that 57% of illegal immigrants come from Mexico; 24% from the rest of Latin America and 19% from elsewhere.cite news| first = Jeffrey| last = Passel|url= | format = PDF|title= Estimates of the Size and Characteristics of the Undocumented Population|publisher=Pew Hispanic Center |date= 2005-03-21]


Legal definitions

Immigration law has a number of highly technical terms that may not mean the same thing to the average reader. [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: [ Glossary] ] An "alien", as defined by the Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the State Department, is any person who is neither a citizen or a national of the United States, [cite web|url=|title=Alien|publisher=United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] [ [|SLB&s_fieldSearch=foliodestination|ACT101&s_type=all&hash=0-0-0-163 ProPublish Reference ] ] [cite web|url=|title=Glossary of Visa Terms|publisher=US State Department] . An "immigrant" is a "permanent resident alien", which in turn is by various definitions either an alien admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident (according to the US CIS), or any alien in the United States [cite web|url=|title=Permanent Resident Alien] who is not in a class of "nonimmigrant alien" such as diplomats, students within the United States to attend school, athletes attending athletic events, ship and aircraft crew members, and others in the United States on a temporary basis (according to the Immigration and Nationality Act).


The Associated Press Stylebook, the primary style and usage guide for most newspapers and newsmagazines in the United States, recommends using "illegal immigrant" rather than "illegal alien" or "undocumented worker". [cite news | title=An evolving language | publisher=The Minnesota Daily | url= |date=November 13, 2006 ] According to a weekly analysis of American English from Voice of America, the official international radio and television broadcasting service of the United States federal government, "The most common term by far, though, at least as reflected in the news media, is "illegal immigrants" in reference to people who are in the United States without following immigration laws. [Voice of America [ Wordmaster] . [ In Choice of Immigration Terms, Some Say Focus on the Act, Not the Actor] , May 23, 2006]

As example of newspaper policy, the Seattle Times avoids referring to "illegal aliens", but uses the terms "illegal immigration", "illegal immigrant," and sometimes "undocumented", explaining that in their use, "Illegal does not mean criminal, it simply means unlawful, not authorized or sanctioned, against the rules".cite news | last=Fancher | first=Mike | title=Newspaper wrestles with issue of immigration, just as U.S. does | publisher=The Seattle Times | date=2006-05-07 | accessdate=2008-07-09 | url=]

At the [ 1994 Unity convention] , the four minority journalism groups – the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists , the Asian American Journalists Association and the [ Native American Journalists Association] – issued a joint statement on the term "illegal aliens": "Except in direct quotations, do not use the phrase illegal alien or the word alien, in copy or in headlines, to refer to citizens of a foreign country who have come to the U.S. with no documents to show that they are legally entitled to visit, work or live here. Such terms are considered pejorative not only by those to whom they are applied but by many people of the same ethnic and national backgrounds who are in the U.S. legally."NAHJ (The National Association of Hispanic Journalists) Urges News Media to Stop Using Dehumanizing Terms When Covering Immigration [ Not Dated] ] NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists) Cautions Media Over Language Use in Immigration Debate; Stands in Support of Accuracy in Journalism. [ March 3, 2006] .] Press releases from these minority journalism groups in 2006 reaffirmed this position and recommended using "undocumented immigrant" and avoid the term "illegal" as a label. [AAJA (Asian American Journalists Association) Statement on Use of "Illegals"in News Media [ March 29, 2006] ]

Profile and demographics

* "A high proportion of illegal immigrants are sojourners: they come to the United States for several years but eventually return to their home country."

*Most illegal immigrants live in families where the adults are undocumented, but the children are U.S.-born. As of June, 2005, an estimated 13.9 million people -- including 4.7 million children -- live in families in which the head of household or the spouse is an unauthorized immigrant. [ Study Details Lives of Illegal Immigrants in U.S. : NPR ] ]

* Illegal immigrants continue to outpace the number of legal immigrants -- a trend that has held steady since the 1990s. While the majority of undocumented immigrants continue to concentrate in places with existing large communities of Hispanics, they are also increasingly settling throughout the rest of the country.

*Illegal immigrants arriving in recent years tend to have more education than those who've been in the country a decade or more. A quarter have at least some college education. Nonetheless, undocumented immigrants as a group are less educated than other sections of the U.S. population: 49 percent haven't completed high school, compared with 9 percent of native-born Americans and 25 percent of legal immigrants.

*Illegal immigrants can be found working in many sectors of the U.S. economy. According to National Public Radio, about 3 percent work in agriculture; 33 percent have jobs in service industries; and substantial numbers can be found in construction and related occupations (16 percent) and in production, installation and repair (17 percent). According to USA Today, about 4 percent work in farming; 21 percent have jobs in service industries; and substantial numbers can be found in construction and related occupations (19 percent) and in production, installation and repair (15 percent), with 12% in sales, 10% in management, and 8% in transportation. [ [ - Immigrants claim pivotal role in economy ] ]

*Illegal immigrants have lower incomes than both legal immigrants and native-born Americans, but earnings do increase somewhat the longer an individual is in the country.

Breakdown by state

As of 2006 [ [ Where Do Illegal Immigrants Live? ] ] , California had 2,830,000 illegal immigrants, or 25% of the total.
Texas had 1,640,000 illegal immigrants, or 14% of the total.
Florida had 980,000 illegal immigrants, or 8% of the total.
Illinois had 550,000 illegal immigrants, or 5% of the total.
New York had 540,000 illegal immigrants, or 5% of the total.
Other top ten states for highest percentage of illegal immigrants include; Arizona, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Washington.

Present-day countries of origin

In March 2006 the Pew Hispanic Center (PHC) estimated the undocumented population ranged from 11.5 to 12 million individuals [Pew Hispanic Center Factsheet [ April 26, 2006] ] , a number supported by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) [cite web | title=Estimating the Undocumented Population | url= | date=September 2006 | publisher=Government Accountability Office] . Using data from March 2004, PHC estimated [Estimates of the Size and Characteristics of the Undocumented Population [ March 21, 2005] ]

The Urban Institute, a research group in Washington, D.C., estimates "between 65,000 and 75,000 undocumented Canadians currently live in the United States." [cite news| title=He’s an... Illegal Eh-lien | author=Beth Slovic Bslovic | url= | date=February 20, 2008 | publisher=Willamette Week]

The Pew Hispanic Center has estimated that 56% of illegal immigrants come from Mexico. [cite web|url=|title=Low-Wage Workers From Mexico Dominate Latest Great Wave of Immigrants|author=Julia Preston] Mexican immigration will almost surely shrink over time. [Mary E. Williams, "Immigration". (San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004). Page 84.] [Pew Hispanic Center [] reported on the March 2005 Current Population Survey (CPS), conducted jointly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, that they conservatively estimated at least 500,000 Mexicans had crossed the border illegally each year since 2000. The number of illegal Mexican immigrants is thought to be 80-85% of the total flow of Mexican immigrants and their population in the United States now consists of over 50% illegal immigrants. This would significantly increase the 2004 Mexican population estimate by at least 2,000,000 and the 2010 projected population by at least 5,000,000. Pew also reported that in 2005, there were at least an estimated 7,500,000 unauthorized workers from Mexico and elsewhere, mostly Central America, working in the U.S., with household members totaling somewhere between 11.5 and 12.1 million and increasing at 700,000 to 1,500,000 per year or 2,000 to 5,000 per day. The number of unauthorized workers, from countries other than Mexico, is known even less precisely but it is estimated (by Pew) that Mexicans compose approximately 60% of the unauthorized workers with other Latin American unauthorized workers another 20% effectively. This would imply that at least 300,000/year additional unauthorized workers illegally cross the border or violate their visas or border crossing cards each year. (Estimates of the Size and Characteristics of the Undocumented Population) [] , (The Underground Labor Force Is Rising To The Surface) [] ] [ [ Mexican and Central American Immigrants in the United States: Health Care Access] ] [ [ Illegal Immigration and Human Smuggling: Central America and ... PDF file] ]

Becoming illegal immigrants

People become illegal immigrants in one of three ways: entering without authorization or inspection, staying beyond the authorized period after legal entry, or by violating the terms of legal entry.Edmonston and Smith, "The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration." National Academy Press. [ page 21] ] Their mode of violation breaks down as follows: []

A border crossing card is a card that allows non-immigrants "to commute back and forth each week from Canada and Mexico". [Mary E. Williams, "Immigration". (San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004). Page 173.] See NEXUS and SENTRI.

Illegal entry

There are an estimated half a million illegal entries into the United States each year.cite web | url= | publisher=Government Accountability Office | title=Border-Crossing Deaths Have Doubled Since 1995; Border Patrol’s Efforts to Prevent Deaths Have Not Been Fully Evaluated | page=42 | date=August 2006] The unfenced rural mountainous and desert border between Arizona and Mexico has become a major entrance area for illegal immigration to the United States, due in part to the increased difficulty of crossing illegally into California. Fact|date=March 2008 That works out to a city the size of Baton Rouge, La., living in the park without a sewage system, without garbage collection, without a grid of dedicated roads or sidewalks. They move where they want in four-wheel-drive cars, ATVs, motorcycles, bicycles and their own feet.Violent Drama Plays Out Amid Natural Splendor By Bob Marshall, Newhouse News Service, Dateline Why, Arizona [ March 15, 2004] ]

Often, the people that choose to sneak across the border pay thousands of dollars to people smugglers called "coyotes" to assist in safely crossing the border into the United States. [ Immigration deal’s expensive proposition] : Advocates worry loan sharks may profit off of fees required for citizenship, msnbc, 2007-05-24.]

The tightening of border enforcement has disrupted the traditional circular movement of many migrant workers from Mexico by increasing the costs and risks of crossing the border, thereby reducing their rate of return migration to Mexico. The difficulty and expense of the journey has prompted many migrant workers to stay in the United States longer or indefinitely. [The percentage of illegal immigrants who used to routinely return home and no longer do is unknown [ December 21, 2006] ]

Visa overstay

A traveler is considered a "visa overstay" once he or she remains in the United States after the time of admission has expired. The time of admission varies greatly from traveler to traveler depending on what visa class into which they were admitted. Visa overstays tend to be somewhat more educated and better off financially than those who crossed the border illegally. [Alexandra Marks, A harder look at visa overstayers, Christian Science Monitor [ February 05, 2002] ]

To help track visa overstayer the US-VISIT (United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology) program collects and retains biographic, travel, and biometric information, such as photographs and fingerprints, of foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States. It also requires electronic readable passports containing this information.

Visa overstays mostly enter with tourist or business visas [Modes of Entry for the Illegal Immigrant Population, Pew Hispanic Center [ May 29, 2006] ]

Percent of Illegal Immigrants who are Visa Overstayers

Violating terms

People have long used sham marriages as a way to fraudulently gain citizenship in the United States. [ [ History of Sham Marriages] ] One of the most prominent cases was that of Nada Nadim Prouty, a Lebanese immigrant who gained entry into the US as a student, but then married fraudulently to stay in the country, and even became a US citizen and went on to become an employee of the FBI and the CIA, before pleading guilty to conspiracy. [ [ Nada Nadim Prouty MSNBC] ] [ [ Nada Nadim Prouty DOJ] ] Engaging in a bogus marriage went hi-tech with the case of a Russian woman and an American man arranging a marriage over the Internet. [ [ Bogus Marriage over the Internet] ]


Economic incentives

Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, argues that " [illegal immigrants] are going to get here as long as they have economic incentives to come." [Citation
last =Elstrom
first =Peter
title =Fresh Ideas for the Immigration Debate
newspaper =Business Week Online
pages =p6-6
year =2007
url =
] The continuing practice of hiring unauthorized workers has been referred to as “the magnet for illegal immigration.” [ Press Briefing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform by Joel Kaplan, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy [ June 25, 2007] ]

Mexico has the highest income per capita in Latin America, [According to World Bank figures 14 September 2007)] [ [ GLOBAL/WORLD INCOME PER CAPITA GNI, GNP, GDP, 2006, 2005 Wealth, Rich Country Ranking, Rank, Developing Countries : Finfacts Ireland ] ] but the wealth is centralized in the hands of a minority. It had a gross domestic product (in terms of PPP) of more than US$1.3 trillion in 2007, [ [ CIA - The World Factbook - Mexico ] ] and more billionaires than Switzerland [,8599,1642286,00.html Carlos Slim's Embarrassment of Riches - TIME ] ] (including Carlos Slim whom Time Magazinecite news
first = David
last = Luhnow
title = The Secrets of the World's Richest Man
url =
publisher = The Wall Street Journal
page = A1
date = August 4, 2007
accessdate = 2007-08-04
] cite news
first = Stephanie
last = Mehta
title = Carlos Slim,
url =
publisher = Fortune
date = August 6, 2007
accessdate = 2007-08-06
] , ABC News, [ [ ABC News: Forbes: Slim Is World's 2nd Richest Man ] ] and CNN Money [ [ Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world - Aug. 6, 2007 ] ] claim is the world's richest man and who owns 8% of the country's GDP). Yet according to the World Bank 17.6% of Mexico's population lives in "extreme" poverty, while 30.1% live in "moderated" poverty, for a total of 47.7%. [ [ Microsoft Word - Vol I F Second Phase Executive Summary.doc ] ]

In 2003, then-President of Mexico, Vicente Fox stated that remittances "are our biggest source of foreign income, bigger than oil, tourism or foreign investment" and that "the money transfers grew after Mexican consulates started giving identity cards to their citizens in the United States." He stated that money sent from Mexican workers in the United States to their families back home reached a record $12 billion. [ [ > News > Mexico - Remittances are Mexico's biggest source of income, says Fox ] ] . Two years later, in 2005, the World Bank stated that Mexico was receiving $18.1 billion in remittances and that it ranked third (behind only India and China) among the countries receiving the greatest amount of remittances. [ [,,contentMDK:20724214~pagePK:64257043~piPK:437376~theSitePK:4607,00.html Migration Can Deliver Welfare Gains, Reduce Poverty, Says Global Economic Prospects 2006.] ]

Family reunification

According to demographer Jeffery Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center, the flow of Mexicans to the U. S. has produced a "network effect" - furthering immigration as Mexicans moved to join relatives already in the U.S.

US Government inefficiencies

The waiting time to get a Permanent Resident Card from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services was in 2007 almost three years with each applicant spending an average of 45 hours in US government lines, inefficiencies that encourage illegal immigration. [cite news | url= | title=Immigration Agency Mired In Inefficiency | author=Spencer S. Hsu | publisher=Washington Post | date=May 28, 2007 | page=A01] According to Ramah McKay of the Migration Policy Institute, many analysts believe that the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. could be reduced significantly by alleviating the backlog by processing increased numbers of applicants each year and raising the cap on the first and second preference categories for family reunification.cite web|url=|title=Family Reunification|author=Ramah McKay, Migration Policy Institute Migration Information Source, May 2003 ]

Trade agreements and government failures

The Rockridge Institute asks, "What role have international trade agreements had in creating or exacerbating people's urge to flee their homelands? If capital is going to freely cross borders, should people and labor be able to do so as well, going where globalization takes the jobs?... Such a framing of the problem would lead to a solution involving the Secretary of State, conversations with Mexico and other Central American countries, and a close examination of the promises of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to raise standards of living around the globe. [The Framing of Immigration [ Last modified May 25, 2006] ]

The Mexican government failed to follow through on promises to the United States to invest billions of dollars in roads, schooling, sanitation, housing, and other infrastructure to accommodate new "maquiladoras" (border factories) that had been envisioned as a way to reduce illegal immigration as a part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).cite web|url=|title=Nafta Should Have Stopped Illegal Immigration, Right?|author=Louis Uchitelle New York Times, February 18, 2007] As a result few were built, and China was able to out-compete Mexico for manufacturing goods for the United States market. Rather than increasing as planned, the number of manufacturing workers in Mexico dropped from 4.1 million in 2000 to 3.5 million in 2004. Also, price pressure from more efficient United States corn producers and the elimination of tariffs under NAFTA [NAFTA and Mexico - US Migration Philip Martin] caused the price of maize to fall 70% in Mexico between 1994 and 2001, and the number of farm jobs to decrease from 8.1 million in 1993 to 6.8 million in 2002. [cite web|url=|title=Are Free Trade Agreements Free? Are They Development Strategies?|author=George Gelber]

Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, a survey of international businessmen that ranks countries from least to most corrupt, ranks Mexico at 72nd place out of 179 countries [ [ The 2006 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index — ] ] . (The "Index" ranks the U.S. in the 20th place. Lower ranking indicates less corruption.) According to Global Integrity's 2006 Mexico Country Report, corruption costs the Mexican economy as much as $60 billion per year [ [ NCPA | Brief Analysis #605, Economic Freedom and Economic Growth in Mexico ] ] . A survey by the Center for the Study of Private Sector Economics ("Centro de Estudios Económicos del Sector Privado"), a Mexican research firm, estimates that 79 percent of companies in Mexico believe “illegal transactions” are a serious obstacle to business development [ [ businessanticorruption | Mexico Country Profile ] ] , . The 1994 economic crisis in Mexico associated with rampant government corruption [ [ frontline: murder money & mexico: a chronology ] ] resulted in a greatly decreased U.S. dollar value of Mexican wages relative to U.S. production workers [cite web|url=|title=Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border|author=Gordon H. Hanson, Antonio Spilimbergo The American Economic Review, Vol. 89, No. 5 (Dec., 1999), pp. 1337-1357] [cite web|url=|title=DEVALUATION OF PESO RESULTING IN INCREASE OF UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS TO U.S.|date=1995-03-01|publisher=SourceMex] [cite web|url=|title=Managing International Financial Disorder: Lessons [?] From the Peso Crisis] cite web|url=|title=Nafta Should Have Stopped Illegal Immigration, Right?|publication=New York Times|author=Louis Uchitelle|date=2007-02-18] .

Another important factor, mostly overlooked by policy analysts and politicians in the debate over root causes and solutions to this issue, is the fact that the US economy has been the recipient of capital investment flows from Latin America for decades. The growth of the Latin American Private Banking industry in Miami, FL over this time period is a reflection of the strength and consistency of these capital flows. The growth of the residential real estate market for expatriates and Latin American tourists is also another reflection of these capital flows. Flows from Venezuela were strong as early as the late 1960s and 1970s, when that country experienced significant growth in wealth as an oil exporting country. These flows continued quite strongly throughout the 1980s all the while capital controls were in place making capital flight to the US illegal for Latin American investors, from a local country legal perspective and normally not discussed in official documentation. [anecdotal information gained from bankers and stockbrokers of the era]

There may be many reasons for this endemic capital flight from Latin America. Political and economic instability should not be overlooked as a driving force. As post-Simon Bolivar dictatorships lost power to democratic systems throughout the 1930s-40s, and labor and civil rights movements gained power in parallel with the US, the US government did view democratically chosen emerging mixed free-market, collective and nationalized economic politics in these countries with suspicion. The US government saw these mixed economic solutions as the rise of 'socialism' or 'communism' and a fundamental threat to the US form of Neo-Liberal Capitalism espoused by multi-lateral institutions (i.e. World Bank, IMF) for which the US was the principal sponsor. The US had just waged its own culture war during the McCarthy era against its own citizens who worked through democratic channels to support the labor movement, and other kinds of mixed-economy policies which were suppressed by official government initiatives including breach of constitutionally protected first amendment rights. During this time period, the US did clandestinely intervene through the CIA to support coup d'etats against democratically elected governments which led to significant destabilization in local economies lasting for decades. This instability contributed to the need for wealthy people to move capital out as well as emigrate causing brain drain in favor of the US, whose economy eagerly accepted this investment and human capital to create industry and jobs in the Continental US. [Naomi Klein "Shock Doctrine"]

All of these capital flows to the US represent lost opportunity costs for investment in industry throughout Latin America that could employ unskilled workers today. They also represent brain drain which could have led to development of higher order industries in these countries around universities in technology and service sectors, which largely occurred in the US economy instead using the same financial and human capital transfers. They may also reflect why politicians such as Hugo Chavez can be democratically elected and enjoy such wholesale mass support from 75% of the population who live below poverty level at least long enough to get him his term-limit extensions and other dictatorial powers which he enjoys today. ["Lonely Planet Guide to Venezuela"] The society suffered significant under-investment in social, human and industrial capital since the oil shocks of the 1970s changed direction for that economy, and never had compulsory universal education even before the capital flight began until the 1950s. ["Fodor's South America "]

Facilitation by foreign governments

There it has been some accusations from U.S. groups that the Mexican government is collaborating to make illegal immigration to the United States easier:

*It plans to produce 70,000 maps marking main roads and water tanks for people wanting to cross illegally into the US. According to Mauricio Farah of Mexico's Human Rights Commission, "The only thing we are trying to do is warn them of the risks they face and where to get water, so they don't die," But Russ Knocke, a spokesman for US Homeland Security said maps would not improve safety for those trying to cross the border, "It is not helpful for anyone, no matter how well intended they might be, to produce road maps that lead aliens into the desolate and dangerous areas along the border, and potentially invite criminal activity, human exploitation and personal risk," [ [ BBC NEWS | Americas | Mexican migrants to get US maps ] ] "In response to the growing concern over these immigrant deaths, the INS [Immigrantion and Naturalization Service] launched "Operation Lifesaver" ...using patrol flights and search-and-rescue missions to find migrants in distress." [Mary E. Williams, "Immigration". (San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004). Page 118.]

* The Yucatan government (a state of Mexico) also produces educational materials (a handbook and DVD) about the risks and implications of crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. According to some groups, this guide tells immigrants where to find health care, how to get their kids into U.S. schools and how to send money home. Sara Zapata Mijares of the Los Angeles Yacatecan Club and officials in Yucatan say illegal immigration is a reality and the guide is a necessity to save lives. Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform says, "This is really the way they keep their corrupt system afloat, by sending their excess workers to the United States and getting billions of dollars in remittances every year ... so for them this is a worthwhile investment". [ [,2933,151207,00.html - Mexican State Issues 'How To' on Border Jumping - Politics | Republican Party | Democratic Party | Political Spectrum ] ]

*The Mexican government distributes a comic book which warns illegal immigrants about illegal passing across the border. [ [ The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Mexico offers tips for crossing border in comic book ] ] That comic book recommends to illegal immigrants, once they've safely crossed the border, "Don't call attention to yourself. ... Avoid loud parties. ... Don't become involved in fights." The Mexican government defends the guide as an attempt to save lives. "It's kind of like illegal immigration for dummies," said the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, Mark Krikorian. "Promoting safe illegal immigration is not the same as arguing against it." However, on the last page of the comic book, it is clearly stated the Mexican government doesn't promote illegal crossing at all and only encourage visits to the U.S. with all required documentation.

*Matrícula Consular identification cards. The Matrícula Consular ("Consular Registration") is an identification card issued by the Government of Mexico through its consulate offices. The purpose of the card is to demonstrate that the bearer is a Mexican national living outside of Mexico. Similar consular identification cards are issued to citizens of Argentina, Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras. [cite news|url=|publisher=New York Sun|title=Long-awaited Document For the Undocumented|author=Daniela Gerson|date=2005-01-19] The document is accepted at financial institutions in many states and, in conjunction with an IRS Taxpayer Identification Number, allows illegal immigrants to open checking and saving accounts. [Bank of America to offer bank accounts, credit cards to illegal immigrants [ 15 February 2007] ]

Legal issues

Immigration laws

Immigrants are classified as illegal for one of three reasons: entering without authorization or inspection, staying beyond the authorized period after legal entry, or violating the terms of legal entry. [cite web | title=The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration | page=21 | url= | publisher=The National Academies Press | date=1997]


Activity on the United States-Mexico border is concentrated around big border cities such as San Diego and El Paso, which have extensive border fencing and enhanced border patrols.Fact|date=March 2008 Stricter enforcement of the border in cities has failed to significantly curb illegal immigration, instead pushing the flow into more remote regions and increasing the cost to taxpayers of each arrest from $300 in 1992 to $1700 in 2002. The expense for illegal immigrants has also increased, encouraging them to stay longer to recoup the cost.cite journal | title=Backfire at the Border: Why Enforcement without Legalization | author=Douglas S. Massey | url= | publisher=Trade Policy Analysis | date=June 13, 2005]


US ICE, USBP, and CBP enforce the INA, and to some extent the United States military, local law enforcement and other local agencies, and private citizens and citizen groups guard the border. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS is not an enforcement agency. They do not enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act. They are a service oriented agency only.

At border

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for apprehending individuals attempting illegal entry to the United States. The United States Border Patrol is its mobile uniformed law enforcement arm, responsible for deterrence, detection and apprehension of those who enter the United States without authorization from the government and outside the designated ports of entry.

In December 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to build a separation barrier along parts of the border not already protected by separation barriers. A later vote in the United States Senate on May 17, 2006, included a plan to blockade convert|860|mi|km of the border with vehicle barriers and triple-layer fencing along with granting an "earned path to citizenship" to the 12 million illegal aliens in the U.S. and roughly doubling legal immigration (from their 1970s levels)Fact|date=March 2008 . In 2007 Congress approved a plan calling for more fencing along the Mexican border, with funds for approximately convert|700|mi|km of new fencing.Fact|date=March 2008

"If immigrants, whether legal or illegal, are apprehended entering the US while committing a crime, they are usually charged under federal statues and, if convicted, are sent to federal prisons." Edmonston and Smith, "The New Americans," National Academy Press, [ page 387] ]

At workplace

For decades, immigration authorities have alerted ("no-match-letters") [Definition of No-Match Letters [ August 10, 2007] by the ICE; see also - Safe Harbor [ October 31, 2007] ] employers of mismatches between reported employees' Social Security cards and the actual names of the card holders. On September 1, a federal judge halted this practice of alerting employers of card mismatches. [Court Orders a New Delay on Illegal Worker Rules, New York Times [ Oct 2, 2007] ]

Illegal hiring has not been prosecuted aggressively in recent years: between 1999 and 2003, according to the "Washington Post", “work-site enforcement operations were scaled back 95 percent by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. [“Illegal Hiring is Rarely Penalized.” ‘’Washington Post’’ [ June 19, 2006] ] Major employers of illegal immigrants have included:

*Wal-Mart. In 2005 Wal-Mart agreed to pay $11 million to settle a federal investigation that found hundreds of illegal immigrants were hired by Wal-Mart's cleaning contractors. [Wal-Mart to Pay $11 Million: Chain Settles Illegal-Worker Investigation [ March 19, 2005] ]

*Swift & Co.. In December 2006, in the largest such crackdown in American history, U.S. federal immigration authorities raided Swift & Co. meat-processing plants in six U.S. states, arresting about 1,300 illegal immigrant employees. [Immigration raid linked to ID theft, Chertoff says (USA TODAY) [ December 13, 2006] Because Swift uses a government Basic Pilot program to confirm whether Social Security numbers are valid, no charges were filed against Swift. Company officials have questioned the program's ability to detect when two people are using the same number.]

*Tyson Foods. This company has also been accused of actively importing illegal labor for its chicken packing plants; However, the jury acquitted the company after evidence was presented that Tyson went beyond mandated government requirements in demanding documentation for its employees. [Enforcing Corporate Responsibility for Violations of Workplace Immigration Laws: The Case of Meatpacking [ December 22, 2006] . Tyson also used its enrollment in the Basic Pilot and EVP Programs (voluntary employment eligibility screening programs) as part of its defense. ]


About 40% of illegal immigrants enter legally and then overstay.Edmonston and Smith, "The New Americans," National Academy Press, [ page 39-52] ] About 31,000 people who are not American citizens are held in immigration detention on any given day, [cite web | url= | title=In-Custody Deaths | publisher=New York Times] including children, in over 200 detention centres, jails, and prisons nationwide. The United States government held more than 300,000 people in immigration detention in 2007 while deciding whether to deport them. [cite news | url= | date=2008-08-12 | accessdate=2008-08-18 | title=Ill and in Pain, Detainee Dies in U.S. Hands | author=Nina Bernstein | publisher=New York Times]


An individual's deportation is determined in removal proceedings, administrative proceedings under United States immigration law. Removal proceedings are typically conducted in Immigration Court (the Executive Office for Immigration Review) by an immigration judge. Deportations from the United States increased by more than 60 percent from 2003 to 2008, with Mexicans accounting for nearly two-thirds of those deported. [cite news | url= | title=Mexicans deported from US face shattered lives | author=Julie Watson | publisher=Associated Press | date=24-08-2008]


Complications in deportation efforts ensue when parents are illegal immigrants but their children are birthright citizens. Federal appellate courts have upheld the refusal by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to stay the deportation of illegal immigrants merely on the grounds that they have U.S.-citizen, minor children.cite web|url=|title=U.S. Citizenship of Persons Born in the United States to Alien Parents|last=Lee|first=Margaret|date=12 May 2006|publisher=Congressional Research Service Report for Congress|pages=10,17|accessdate=2008-08-16] There are some 3.1 million United States citizen children with at least one illegal immigrant parent as of 2005; At least 13,000 American children had one or both parents deported in the years 2005-2007. [cite news|url=|title=Immigration Quandary: A Mother Torn From Her Baby |last=Preston|first=Julia|date=2007-11-17|publisher=New York Times|accessdate=2008-08-20] [cite web|url=|title=The Size and Characteristics of the Unauthorized Migrant Population in the US|last=Passel|first=Jeffrey|date=2006-03-07|publisher=Pew Hispanic Center|accessdate=2008-08-20]

Such was the case of Mexican Elvira Arellano, who sought sanctuary at a Chicago-area church in an effort to impede immigration authorities from separating her and her eight year old, U.S.-born son. This is also the case in the instance of Sadia Umanzor, an illegal immigrant from Honduras and the central figure of a November 17, 2007, "New York Times" story. Umanzor was a fugitive from a 2006 deportation order. She was recently arrested, in anticipation of deportation. However, a judge postponed that deportation proceeding. The judge placed her in house arrest, citing her six-month old U.S.-born baby as the factor. [Julia Preston, "Immigration Quandary: A Mother Torn From Her Baby," "New York Times," November 17, 2007 [] ]

Mass Deportation

According to the Washington Post, Center for American Progress puts the cost of forcibly removing most the nation's estimated 10 million illegal immigrants at $41 billion a year. Advocates for tougher enforcement of immigration laws did not dispute the study's figures but disputed its assumptions about how law enforcement would work. The study assumed that tougher enforcement would induce 10 percent to 20 percent of undocumented residents in the United States to leave voluntarily. But Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies argued that as many as half would leave voluntarily. He stated, "We do need to know what enforcement costs, but [the study] is a cartoon version of how enforcement would work." [cite news | url= | title=$41 Billion Cost Projected To Remove Illegal Entrants | author=Darryl Fears | publisher=Washington Times | date=2005-07-26]

There have been two major periods of mass deportations in U.S. history. In the Mexican Repatriation of the 1930s, through mass deportations and forced migration, an estimated 500,000 Mexicans and Mexican Americans were deported or coerced into emigrating, in what Mae Ngai, an immigration history expert at the University of Chicago, has described as "a racial removal program".Fact|date=September 2008 The majority of those removed were U.S. Citizens.Dubious|date=August 2008 Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., cosponsor of a U.S. House Bill that calls for a commission to study the "deportation and coerced emigration" of U.S. citizens and legal residents, has expressed concerns that history could repeat itself, and that should illegal immigration be made into a felony, this could prompt a "massive deportation of U.S. citizens". [ U.S. urged to apologize for 1930s deportations] Wendy Koch, USA TODAY, 4/5/2006] Later, in Operation Wetback in 1954, when the United States last deported a sizable number of illegal immigrants, in some cases along with their U.S born children, U.S. citizens by law, some illegal immigrants, fearful of potential violence as police swarmed through Mexican American barrios throughout the southeastern states, stopping "Mexican-looking" citizens on the street and asking for identification, fled to Mexico. [ Timeline: 1953 Operation Wetback: The U.S. Immigration Service deports more than 3.8 million people of Mexican heritage.] [ The Border] , PBS] Dubious|date=September 2008

When the United States last deported a sizable number of illegal immigrants many more opted to return to Mexico. []

Kennedy jurisprudence

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 16, 2008, per ponented Justice Kennedy ruled (5-4) "that someone who is here illegally may withdraw his voluntarily agreement to depart and continue to try to get approval to remain in the United States." The lawsuit is about two seemingly contradictory provisions of immigration law. One prevents deportation by voluntary departure from the country. The other section allows immigrants who are here illegally but whose circumstances changed to build their case to immigration officials, and must remain in the US. In the case, Samson Dada, a Nigerian citizen, overstayed beyond the expiration of his tourist visa in 1998. Immigration authorities ordered him to leave the country as he agreed to leave voluntarily, to allow his legal re-entry then if he had been deported. [ [, Dada vs. Mukasey, No 06-1181, June 16, 2008] ] [ [, Top court eases rules for foreigners to try to stay in US] ]

Police and military involvement

In 1995, the United States Congress considered an exemption from the Posse Comitatus Act, which generally prohibits direct participation of Department of Defense personnel in civilian law enforcement activities, such as search, seizure, and arrests. [Posse Comitatus Act [ Not Dated] ]

In 1997, Marines shot and killed 18 year old U.S. citizen Esequiel Hernández JrBORDER SKIRMISH [,9171,986881,00.html Aug. 25, 1997] while on a mission to interdict smuggling and illegal immigration near the border community of Redford, Texas. The soldiers observed the high school student from concealment while he was tending his family's goats in the vicinity of their ranch. But at one point, Hernandez raised his .22-caliber rifle and fired shots in the direction of the concealed soldiers. He was subsequently tracked for 20 minutes then shot and killed. [cite news | publisher=Hartford Advocate | url=| title=On the Border | date=2008-06-30 | accessdate=2008-07-11] cite news | publisher=PBS | url= | title=About the Film The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández | date=2008-07-07 | accessdate=2008-07-11] In reference to the incident, military lawyer Craig T. Trebilock argues that "the fact that armed military troops were placed in a position with the mere possibility that they would have to use force to subdue civilian criminal activity reflects a significant policy shift by the executive branch away from the posse comitatus doctrine." [The Myth of Posse Comitatus [ October 2000] ] The killing of Hernandez led to a congressional review [House panel plans probe of S. Texas border killing [ July 17, 1997] ] and an end to a nine-year old policy of the military aiding the Border Patrol [Pentagon Pulls Troops Off Drug Patrols Action Comes as Grand Jury Weighs Indictment of Marine [ July 30, 1997] ] .

After the September 11, 2001 attacks the United States again considered placing soldiers along the U.S.-Mexico border as a security measure. [National Guard presence cutting number of illegal US-Mexico border crossings [ June 12, 2006] ] In May 2006, President George W. Bush announced plans to use the National Guard to strengthen enforcement of the US-Mexico Border from illegal immigrantsBush Set To Send Guard to Border [ May 15, 2006] ,emphasizing that Guard units "will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities."President Bush Addresses the Nation on Immigration Reform [ May 2006] ] Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said in an interview with a Mexico City radio station, "If we see the National Guard starting to directly participate in detaining people ... we would immediately start filing lawsuits through our consulates," [Mexico Threatens Lawsuits Over U.S. Guard Patrols [ May 17, 2006] ]
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called on the President not to deploy military troops to deter immigrants, and stated that a "deployment of National Guard troops violates the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act" [ACLU Calls on President Not to Deploy Military Troops to Deter Immigrants at the Mexican Border [ May 5, 2006]
. According to the State of the Union Address in January 2007 [President Bush's Plan For Comprehensive Immigration Reform [ 2007 State of the Union] ] , more than 6000 National Guard members have been sent to the US-Mexico border to supplement the Border PatrolComprehensive Immigration Reform [ Not Dated] ] , costing in excess of $750 million [National Guard works the border [ October 23, 2006] .

Local enforcement

There have been extensive efforts on the part of local law enforcement to increase police presence at the border. [One Sheriff Sees Immigration Answer as Simple [ v] ] [Ariz. Posse to Arrest Illegal Immigrants [ May 4, 2006] ] [Arizona County Uses New Law to Look for Illegal Immigrants [ May 10, 2006] ] However, federal judges have ruled that control of illegal immigration is the exclusive domain of the federal government and have prohibited local communities and states from attempting to enforce ordinances intended to control illegal immigrationFact|date=August 2008

State and local governments have responded by passing local laws and ordinances to control illegal immigration within their own jurisdictions [Questions Remain On Illegal Immigrants [ July 12, 2007] ] . These laws are primarily aimed at (a) limiting an illegal immigrants' ability to obtain jobs, housing, or a legally acceptable form of identification. (b) To empower local law enforcement agencies to inquire into an immigrant's legal status. These law have met with challenges as reported elsewhere in this article.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office has argued that since the continued presence of unauthorized aliens in the United States incurs a civil penalty, the presence of any undocumented person in the United States is a civil not a criminal offense, and the removal of an unauthorized alien from the United States is an "administrative" process not a criminal process. [ Charles W. Morris (Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office) [] Retrieved: July 6, 2008. ]

Several lawsuits have been filed challenging the constitutionality of locally imposed measures, on the grounds that it is not the place of local government to assume the responsibilities of the Federal government.Fact|date=June 2008 Two of the most closely watched cases involve ordinances passed in Hazleton, Pennsylvania and Farmers Branch, Texas that include fining landlords that rent to illegal immigrants, and allowing local authorities to screen illegal immigrants in police custody. On July 26, 2007, a federal court struck down the Hazleton ordinance as unconstitutional. The ruling is regarded by many to set a legal precedent that can be used to strike down local immigration ordinances nationwide. Hazleton's mayor has promised to appeal the decision. The Farmer's Branch ordinance remains under temporary restraining order enjoining enforcement of the ordinance pending a final ruling.

anctuary cities

Several US cities have instructed their own law enforcement personnel and other city employees not to notify or cooperate with the federal government when they become aware of illegal immigrants living within their jurisdiction. These cities are often referred to as “sanctuary cities” and include Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and other mostly large urban cities. Most of these cities claim that the benefit illegal immigrants bring to their city outweigh the costs. Opponents say the measures violate federal law as the cities are in effect creating their own immigration policy, an area of law which only Congress has authority to alter [U.S. Cities Provide Sanctuary to Illegals [,2933,92966,00.html July 25, 2003] .

Many cities, including Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Detroit, Jersey City, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Aurora, Colorado, Baltimore, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Portland, Maine, and Senath, Missouri, have become "sanctuary cities", having adopted ordinances banning police from asking people about their immigration status. [Cities Provide Sanctuary to Illegals [ U.S. Last updated: 12-5-07] ]

Community-based involvement

The Minuteman Project has been lobbying Congress for stronger enforcement of the border laws and is organizing private property owners along the U.S.-Mexican border.Fact|date=August 2008 According to a 2006 report by the Anti-Defamation League, white supremacists and other extremists were engaging in a growing number of assaults against legal and illegal immigrants and those perceived to be immigrants. [cite web | title=Extremists Declare 'Open Season' on Immigrants | publisher=Anti-Defamation League | url= | date=April 26, 2006]

The Indian reservations along the US/Mexico border are being inundated with illegal aliens passing through their lands, leaving debris and waste, as well as committing crimes on tribal lands. [] They have asked the US Government to stop the large number of illegal aliens as they are unable to do so.

The No More Deaths organization offers food, water, and medical aid to migrants crossing the desert regions of the American Southwest in an effort to reduce the increasing number of deaths along the border. [No More Deaths homepage [ Home Page] ]



There is a disproportionate level of foreclosures in some immigrant neighborhoods, with both illegal and legal immigrants increasingly in danger of losing their jobs and their homes. [ [ Immigrants hit hard by slowdown, subprime crisis] , Reuters, January 30, 2008] Around 2005, an increasing number of banks saw illegal immigrants as an untapped resource for growing their own revenue stream and contended that providing undocumented residents with mortgages would help revitalize local communities, with many community banks providing home loans for illegal immigrants. [ [ Banks help illegal immigrants own their own home] , CNN/Money]

Wages and employment

Separate research by both [ George Borjas] , Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at Harvard University and Paul Samuelson, Nobel prize-winning economist from MIT has shown that illegal immigration had a small effect on reducing the economic status of U.S. poor while benefitting middle class individuals and wealthier Americans. []

Research by George J. Borjas (Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at Harvard University), Jeffrey Grogger (the Irving Harris Professor in Urban Policy in the Harris School at the University of Chicago), and Gordon H. Hanson (the Director of the Center on Pacific Economies and Professor of Economics at UCSD) found that a 10-percent immigrant-induced increase in the supply of a particular skill group reduced the black wage by 4.0 percent, lowered the employment rate of black men by 3.5 percentage points, and increased the incarceration rate of blacks by almost one percent. [Immigration and African-American Employment Opportunities: The Response of Wages, Employment, and Incarceration to Labor Supply Shocks [ September 2006] ]

Taxes and social services

The IRS estimates that about 6 million unauthorized immigrants file individual income tax returns each year. Research reviewed by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office indicates that between 50 percent and 75 percent of unauthorized immigrants pay federal, state, and local taxes. Undocumented workers are estimated to pay in about $7 billion per year into Social Security. [cite news | url= | title=Illegal Immigrants Are Bolstering Social Security With Billions | publisher=New York Times | author=Eduardo Porter | date=April 5, 2005]

A paper in the peer reviewed Tax Lawyer journal from the American Bar Association asserts that undocumented immigrants contribute more in taxes than they cost in social services. [cite journal | author=J. Lipman, Francine, J. | title=Taxing Undocumented Immigrants: Separate, Unequal and Without Representation | url= | publisher= [ The Tax Lawyer] | date=Spring 2006 Also published in Harvard Latino Law Review, Spring 2006 [] .] The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reviewed 29 reports published over 15 years to evaluate the impact of unauthorized immigrants on the budgets of state and local governments, and found that the tax revenues that unauthorized immigrants generate for state and local governments do not offset the total cost of services provided to those immigrants, but that the amount that state and local governments spend on services for unauthorized immigrants represents a small percentage of the total amount spent by those governments to provide such services to residents in their jurisdictions.cite web | url= | title=The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments | publisher=The Congress of the United States - Congressional Budget Office | date=12-2007 ]

Almost $190 million or about 25 percent of the uncompensated costs southwest border county hospitals incurred resulted from emergency medical treatment provided to undocumented immigrants.Fact|date=August 2008

Using the U.S. INS statistics on how many illegal immigrants are residing in each country and the U.S. Dept of Education's current expenditure per pupil by state, the estimated cost of educating illegal alien students and U.S.-Born Children of Illegal Aliens in 2004 was $28,607,800,000. [ [ | FAIR: Breaking the Piggy Bank: How Illegal Immigration is Sending Schools Into the Red Full Text ] ] [ [ Breaking the Piggy Bank: How Illegal Immigration is Sending Schools Into the Red] , by Jack Martin, Director of Special Projects, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), June 2005.]

Law enforcement costs

Apprehension & deportation

Border control uses the latest technological advances to help capture these immigrants, sometimes detain/prosecute, and send back over the border. According to the US Department of Homeland Security and the Border Patrol Enforcement Integrated Database, apprehensions have increased from 955,310 in 2002 to 1,159,802 in the year of 2004. "But fewer than 4 percent of apprehended migrants were actually detained and prosecuted for illegal entry, partly because it costs $90 a day to keep them in detention facilities and bed space is very limited. For the remainder of the apprehended migrants, if they are willing to sign a form attesting that they are voluntarily repatriating themselves, they are simply bused to a gate on the border, where they re-enter Mexico." Cornelius, Wayne A.. "Controlling ‘Unwanted’ Immigration: Lessons from the United States, 1993–2004" Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 31.4 (2005). [ 29 Oct. 2007] ] "During the summer of 2004, the U.S. government pressured the Mexican government into accepting 'deep repatriation' of as many as 300 apprehended migrants per day to six cities in central and southern Mexico. Each of these 151 chartered flights cost U.S. taxpayers $50,000."

Crimes committed by illegal immigrants

According to Edmonton and Smith in , "it is difficult to draw any strong conclusions on the association between immigration and crime". A study done by the Immigration Policy Center showed that immigrants and especially illegal immigrants are five times less likely to be in prison than American citizens, with fear of deportations thought to serve as an incentive to be more law abiding.cite news | url= | title=Study: Immigrants don't raise U.S. crime rate | author=Eunice Moscoso | publisher=Arizona Daily Star | date=02.27.2007] Also, cities with large immigrant populations showed larger reductions in property and violent crime than cities without large immigrant populations. [ [ Opinion - Editorial: Immigrant threat? Hardly - ] ] Almost all of what is know about immigration and crime is from information on those in prison. Incarceration rates do not necessarily reflect differences in current crime rates. A few of the other reasons also cited for why the extent of illegal immigrants' criminal activities is unknown are as follows:

*For many minor crimes, especially crimes involving juveniles, those who are apprehended are not arrested. And only a fraction of those who are arrested are ever brought to the courts for disposition.

*Many illegal immigrants who are apprehended by Border Patrol agents are voluntarily returned to their home countries and are not ordinarily tabulated in national crime statistics. If immigrants, whether illegal or legal, are apprehended entering the United States while committing a crime, they are usually charged under federal statutes and, if convicted, are sent to federal prisons. Throughout this entire process, immigrants may have a chance of deportation, or of sentencing that is different from that for a native-born person.

* We lack comprehensive information on whether arrested or jailed immigrants are illegal immigrants, nonimmigrants, or legal immigrants. Such information can be difficult to collect because immigrants may have a reason to provide false statements (if they reply that they are an illegal immigrant, they can be deported, for instance). And the verification of these data is troublesome because it requires matching INS records with individuals who often lack documentation or present false documents.

*Noncitizens may have had fewer years residing in the United States than citizens, and thus less time in which to commit crimes and be apprehended.

In 1999, law enforcement activities involving unauthorized immigrants in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas cost a combined total of more than $108 million. This cost did not include activities related to border enforcement. In San Diego County, the expense (over $50 million) was nine percent of the total county's budget for law enforcement that year. [Tanis J. Salant and others, Illegal Immigrants in U.S./Mexico Border Counties: The Costs for Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice, and Emergency Medical Services (report prepared for the United States/Mexico Border Counties Coalition, February 2001).]

A study by the Public Policy Institute of California, found that, "cities with large immigrant populations showed larger reductions in property and violent crime than cities without large immigrant populations", but adds, "As with most studies, we do not have ideal data. This lack of data restricts the questions we will be able to answer. In particular, we cannot focus on the undocumented population explicitly" [] .

A study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has found that while property-related crime rates have not been affected by increased immigration (both legal and illegal), in border counties there is a significant positive correlation between illegal immigration and violent crime, most likely due to extensive smuggling activity along the border. [The impact of illegal immigration and enforcement on border crime rates, Federal reserve bank of Dallas. [ March 2003] ]

Another study, by the immigrant-advocacy group, Immigration Policy Center, based on U.S. Census Bureau data, found that large increases in illegal immigration do not result in a rise in crime

On August 6, 2008, an audit done by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement found that 137 of the 637 jail inmates in the Lake County, Illinois jail were illegal immigrants. According to Lake County sheriff Mark Curran, illegal immigrants were charged with half of the 14 murders in the county. [cite web
last =Gordon
first =Tony
title =Lake Co. sheriff says 21.5% of jail inmates illegal immigrants
publisher ="Daily Herald"
date =2008-09-18
url =
accessdate =2008-09-19

Identity theft

Identity theft is associated with illegal immigrants who use social security numbers that do not belong to them, in order to obtain fake work documentation. [cite news|publisher=MSNBC|title=Hidden Cost of Illegal Immigration: ID Theft|url=|date=2006-03-31

Drug smuggling

According to proceedings from a 1997 meeting of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, "Through other violations of our immigration laws, Mexican drug cartels are able to extend their command and control into the United States. Drug smuggling fosters, subsidizes, and is dependent upon continued illegal immigration and alien smuggling." [House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, Committee on the Judiciary, Border Security and Deterring Illegal Entry Into the United States [ April 23, 1997] ]

Gang violence

As of 2005, Operation Community Shield had detained nearly fourteen hundred illegal immigrant gang members. [, Sheet: Securing America Through Immigration Reform [ November 28, 2005] ] "The Salvadoran gang, known to law enforcement authorities as MS-13 because many members identify themselves with tattoos of the number 13, is thought to have established a major smuggling center in Matamoros, Mexico, just south of Brownsville, Texas, from where it has arranged to bring illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico into the United States. MS13 publicly declared that it targets the Minutemen, civilians who take it upon themselves to control the border, to "teach them a lesson", possibly due to their smuggling of various Central/South Americans (mostly other gang members, drugs, and weapons across the border. A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the twenty thousand member 18th Street Gang in California is illegal. [Immigration and the Alien Gang Epidemic: Problems and Solutions [ April 13, 2005] ] . "Mexican alien smugglers plan to pay violent gang members and smuggle them into the United States to murder Border Patrol agents, according to a confidential Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by the Daily Bulletin." [Report: MS-13 gang hired to murder Border Patrol [ January 9, 2006] ]


Waves of illegal immigrants are taking a heavy toll on U.S. public lands along the Mexican border, federal officials say.Immigration Taking Toll on Parks, Refuges Near U.S.-Mexico BorderBy April Reese, Land Letter, Environment and Energy Publishing, LLC, Public Lands, Vol. 10, No. 9, February 13, 2003] Mike Coffeen, a biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service in Tucson, Arizona found the level of impact to be shocking. "Environmental degradation has become among the migration trend's most visible consequences, a few years ago, there were 45 abandoned cars on the Buenos Aires refuge near Sasabe, Arizona and enough trash that a volunteer couple filled 723 large bags with 18,000 pounds of garbage over two months in 2002." [Dumping of Trash, Waste, Endemic in State with Flood of Illegal Immigration Arthur H. Rotstein, Associated Press Newswires, Dateline Coronado National Memorial, Arizona [ July 12, 2004] ]

"It has been estimated that the average desert-walking immigrant leaves behind 8 pounds of trash during a journey that lasts one to three days if no major glitches occur. Assuming half a million people cross the border illegally into Arizona annually, that translates to 2,000 tons of trash that migrants dump each year." [Illegal Entrants' Residue; Trash Woes Piling UpBy Tony Davis, The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson) [ August 24, 2005] ]

Illegal immigrants trying to get to the United States via the Mexican border with southern Arizona are suspected of having caused eight major wildfires this year. The fires destroyed convert|68413|acre|km2 and cost taxpayers $5.1 million to fight. [Illegal Immigrants Tied to Costly WildfiresAssociated Press, Dateline Tucson, Arizona, September 9, 2002 [ 19 Jul 2004] ]

National security

Mohamed Atta al-Sayed and two of his co-conspirators had expired visas when they executed the September 11, 2001 attacks. All of the attackers had U.S. government issued documents and two of them were erroneously granted visa extensions after their deaths [ [ - Six months after Sept. 11, hijackers' visa approval letters received - March 13, 2002 ] ] . The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States found that the government inadequately tracked those with expired tourist or student visas.

Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think-tank that promotes immigration reduction, testified in a hearing before the House of Representatives that

"out of the 48 al-Qaeda operatives who committed crimes here between 1993 and 2001, 12 of them were illegal aliens when they committed their crimes, seven of them were visa overstayers, including two of the conspirators in the first World Trade Center attack, one of the figures from the New York subway bomb plot, and four of the 9/11 terrorists. In fact, even a couple other terrorists who were not illegal when they committed their crimes had been visa overstayers earlier and had either applied for asylum or finagled a fake marriage to launder their status." [Visa Overstays: Can We Bar the Terrorist Door? 109th Congress [ May 11, 2006]

Vice Chair Lee Hamilton and Commissioner Slade Gorton of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States has stated that of the nineteen hijackers of the September 11, 2001 attacks, "Two hijackers could have been denied admission at the port on entry based on violations of immigration rules governing terms of admission. Three hijackers violated the immigration laws after entry, one by failing to enroll in school as declared, and two by overstays of their terms of admission."Prepared Statement of Vice Chair Lee Hamilton and Commissioner Slade Gorton National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary August 19, 2004 The 9/11 Commission Report. [ August 19, 2004] Six months after the attack, their flight schools received posthumous visa approval letters from the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for two of the hijackers, which made it clear that actual approval of the visas took place before the September 11 attacksSix months after Sept. 11, hijackers' visa approval letters received [ March 13, 2002] .

Harm to illegal immigrants

There are significant dangers associated with illegal immigration including potential death when crossing the border. Since the implementation of Operation Gatekeeper immigrants have chosen more dangerous routes to get into the country. [ Roberto Martinez (In Motion Magazine), "Operation Gatekeeper" [] Retrieved: July 4, 2008. ] Most deaths are due to dehydration caused by the intense heats of the Arizona desert and the treacherous desert roads. In 2005 the death toll was over 450 a year. [ [] Retrieved: July 4, 2008. ] Deaths also occur while resisting arrest. According to the US Border Agency, there were 987 assaults on US Border Agents in 2008 and there were a total of 12 people killed by agents in 2007 and 2008. [ [ Border Patrol Agent’s Trial in Killing of Illegal Immigrant Starts in Arizona - New York Times ] ]


Indian, Russian, Thai, and Chinese women have been reported brought to the United States under false pretenses to be then used as sex slaves. “As many as 50,000 people are illicitly trafficked into the United States annually, according to a 1999 CIA study. Once here, they're forced to work as prostitutes, sweatshop laborers, farmhands, and servants in private homes.” US authorities call it “a modern form of slavery.” [ Many of these women are forced in to heavy labor to pay for their passage into the U.S. [ PBS Report on Illegal Immigrant Slavery in the US] ] [ [ Modern slavery thriving in the U.S.] Retrieved: March 5, 2008. ]


The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women has reported scores of cases where women were forced to prostitute themselves. “Trafficking in women plagues the United States as much as it does underdeveloped nations. Organized prostitution networks have migrated from metropolitan areas to small cities and suburbs. Women trafficked to the United States have been forced to have sex with 400-500 men to pay off $40,000 in debt for their passage.” [ [ Coalition Against Trafficking in Women for Prostitution] Retrieved: March 5, 2008.] At least 45 thousand Central American children attempt to illegally immigrate to the United States every year and many of them finish in brothels as sex slaves, according to Manuel Capellin, director in Honduras of the humanitarian organization "House Alliance" [ [ La Prensa - 45 mil niños centroamericanos emigran a EUA al año / 04 / 03 / 2008 / Ediciones / La Prensa ] ] .


Death by exposure has been reported in the deserts, particularly during the hot summer season. [ Evelyn Nieves (The New York Times), "Truth Out Issues", August 6, 2002. [ Illegal Immigrant Death Rate Rises Sharply in Barren Areas.] Retrieved: March 5, 2008.] “Exposure to the elements” encompasses hypothermia, dehydration, heat strokes, drowning, and suffocation. Also, illegal immigrants may die or be injured when they attempt to avoid law enforcement. Martinez, points out that engaging in high speed pursuits while attempting to escape arrest can lead to death. [ [ Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail] , review by Carol Amoruso.]

Public opinion

Importance of the issue

Polls by the LA Times/BloombergLos Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll. Nov. 30-Dec. 3, 2007] , CBS News/New York TimesCBS News/New York Times Poll. May 18-23, 2007] , and USA Today/Gallup [USA Today/Gallup Poll. July 6-8, 2007] show that most Americans consider the issue of illegal immigration a serious one. In both the CBS News/New York Times Poll and the LA Times/Bloomberg Poll, close to 2 out of 3 respondents identified the issue as very serious or important.

Economic effects

US economy

Polls by NBC [NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). Dec. 14-17, 2007.] , ABCABC News Poll. Sept. 27-30, 2007] , CBS/New York Times, and the LA Times/Bloomberg consistently show that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe that the overall impact of illegal immigration is one of harming the US economy. But in the same CBS News/New York Times poll, when asked "Do you think illegal immigrants coming to this country today take jobs away from American citizens, or do they mostly take jobs Americans don't want?" by a ratio of 2-to-1 the answer was "Take Unwanted Jobs". [ Immigration ] ]


One of the most important factors regarding public opinion about immigration is the level of unemployment; anti-immigrant sentiment is highest where unemployment is highest and vice-versa. [Espenshade, Thomas J. and Belanger, Maryanne (1998) "Immigration and Public Opinion." In Marcelo M. Suarez-Orozco, ed. "Crossings: Mexican Immigration in Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Cambridge, Mass.: David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and Harvard University Press, pages 365-403]

A May 2006 New York Times/CBS News Poll shows that 53 percent of Americans feel that “illegal immigrants mostly take the jobs Americans don’t want”The State of American Public Opinion on Immigration in Spring 2006: A Review of Major Surveys, pew Hispanic center [ May 17, 2006] ] . A related poll was also performed by NBC/Wall Street Journal on April 21-24, 2006. In this poll, when asked " If you had to make a choice, would you favor deporting immigrants in America who are not legal citizens and do not have work permits, or would you favor allowing these immigrants to stay in America as long as they pass a security check, meet certain conditions, and pay taxes?", 61 percent of the U.S. population responded "Allow to stay." .

However, in a third opinion poll by Zogby International in 2005, voters were also asked, "Do you support or oppose the Bush administration's proposal to give millions of illegal aliens guest worker status and the opportunity to become citizens?" Only 35% gave their support, and 56 percent said no. The same poll noted a huge majority, 81%, believes local and state police should help federal authorities enforce laws against illegal immigration. [Zogby poll: Americans fed up with illegal aliens Majority against Bush plan for workers, 81% think local police should help feds [ May 6, 2005] ]


71% of respondents in a Quinnipiac University Poll believe that enforcement of immigration laws will require additional measures beyond a border fence, with 65% of respondents supporting employer fines.Quinnipiac University Poll. Nov. 13-19, 2006.] 77% of respondents to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll support employer fines.. In a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll indicates 57% strongly favor employer fines and 17% somewhat favor them, while 44% strongly favor increased border security and 19% strongly oppose. [NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Neil Newhouse (R). June 8-11, 2007] In a CBS News/New York Times poll, 69% of Americans favor prosecuting and deporting illegal immigrants, but only 33% favor deporting those who have lived and worked in the U.S> for at least two years. [ [ Rasmussen Reports™: The most comprehensive public opinion coverage ever provided for a presidential election ] ]

Most polls find that the majority of Americans support either a pathway to citizenship or allowing undocumented immigrants to stay on as guest workers. [] For example, Manhattan Institute reported that 78% of likely Republican voters favor a proposal combining increased border security, tougher penalties for employers who hire illegal workers, and allowing illegal aliens to register for a temporary worker program that includes a path to citizenship. Respondents favored the program over a deportation and enforcement-only plan 58% to 33%." [ [ Manhattan Institute | Immigration Poll ] ] The Quinnipiac poll reports that 65% of adults support a guest worker program for undocumented immigrants.

Response of government

An ABC News Poll, indicates that most respondents (67%) believe the United States is not doing enough to keep illegal immigrants from coming into the country and, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll most Americans believe that US immigration policy needs either fundamental changes (41%) or to be completely rebuilt(49%).

Federal response

In choosing a presidential candidate, most respondents to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll [Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll. June 7-10, 2007] consider his or her stand on illegal immigration to be either an important (66%) or the most important(15%) issue, while a clear minority consider it to be either not too important(16%) or not important at all(2%).

Most respondents (51%) would be upset if Congress does not pass an immigration bill while significantly fewer (22%) would be pleased.

But a Chicago Tribune Super Tuesday exit poll shows that "Experts following the immigration debate claim Republicans had hoped illegal immigration would become a wedge issue between the two parties in the 2008 presidential election." And the report adds, "Voters across the country overwhelmingly and consistently have named the economy as their number one issue, in exit poll data from Super Tuesday and subsequent primaries..."

tate and local response

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll [CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. Oct. 12-14, 2007] , most respondents (55%) believe state or local police forces should arrest illegal immigrants they encounter who have not broken any state or local laws. However, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll. Nov. 30-Dec. 3, 2007 reported that arrests and deportations were the least important, with border security, sanctions against employers, path to citizenship, and guest worker program heading the list .

The previously cited CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll poll indicates that most respondents (76%) are against state governments issues driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. A poll by the Field Institute found that " [California] residents are very much opposed (62% to 35%) to granting undocumented immigrants who do not have legal status in this country the right to obtain a California driver’s license. However, opinion is more divided (49% to 48%) about a plan to issue a different kind of driver’s licensethat would allow these immigrants to drive but would also identify them as not having legal status." [] [ [ Driver's Licenses For Undocumented Aliens in California ] ]

Further, most respondents (63%) in a Quinnipiac University poll support local laws passed by communities to fine businesses that hire illegal immigrants while only 33% oppose it.

See also

* Illegal immigration
* Illegal entry
* Immigration to the United States
* Operation Wetback
* Immigration reduction
* Nativism (politics)
* Sanctuary city
* Mexica Movement
* Mexican Repatriation
* Minuteman Project
* 2006 United States immigration reform protests


Further reading

* Barkan, Elliott R. "Return of the Nativists? California Public Opinion and Immigration in the 1980s and 1990s." "Social Science History" 2003 27(2): 229-283. in Project Muse
* Brimelow, Peter; "Alien Nation" (1996)
* Cull, Nicholas J. and Carrasco, Davíd, ed. "Alambrista and the US-Mexico Border: Film, Music, and Stories of Undocumented Immigrants" U. of New Mexico Press, 2004. 225 pp.
* Flores, William V. "New Citizens, New Rights: Undocumented Immigrants and Latino Cultural Citizenship" "Latin American Perspectives" 2003 30(2): 87-100
* Hanson, Victor David "Mexifornia: A State of Becoming" (2003)
* Lisa Magaña, "Straddling the Border: Immigration Policy and the INS" (2003
* Mohl, Raymond A. "Latinization in the Heart of Dixie: Hispanics in Late-twentieth-century Alabama" "Alabama Review" 2002 55(4): 243-274. ISSN 0002-4341
* Ngai, Mae M. "Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America" (2004),
* Ngai, Mae M. "The Strange Career of the Illegal Alien: Immigration Restriction and Deportation Policy in the United States, 1921-1965" "Law and History Review" 2003 21(1): 69-107. ISSN 0738-2480 Fulltext in History Cooperative
* Thomas J. Espenshade; "Unauthorized Immigration to the United States" "Annual Review of Sociology". Volume: 21. 1995. pp 195+.
* Kennedy, John F. A Nation of Immigrants. New York: Harper & Row, 1964.

External links

* [ Border Stories- a website devoted to stories from both sides of the U.S. Mexico Border]
* [ Mexico Trucker - A website devoted to truthfully tackling the issues and teaching the truth about Mexico, the society and the culture]
*Federation of American Scientists: [ "Border Security: Fences Along the U.S. International Border"] (a report of the Congressional Research Service issued on January 13, 2005)
* [ University of California, San Diego: Center for Comparative Immigration Studies]
* [ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Immigration and Nationality Act, Title 8 Code of Federal Regulations]
* [ Pew Hispanic Center: "The State of American Public Opinion on Immigration in Spring 2006: A Review of Major Surveys"]
* [ Matias] Documentary film about the death of an illegal immigrant, by Claudine LoMonaco and Mary Spicuzza
* [ Death at US-Mexico border reflects immigration tensions] Guardian Co UK
* [ En Tren de la Muerte] - "Dallas Observer"

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