About 11.6 million unauthorized immigrants resided in the United States as of January2008, a drop of 200,000 from the same period in 2007, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimated in a newly released report.
California hosts the largest number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. with 2.85 million, followed by Texas with 1.68 million as of January 2008, said the report available here on Wednesday.
Florida has an unauthorized immigrant population of 840,000 while New York has 640,000 and Arizona has 560,000 in the same period.
Most of the unauthorized immigrants come from the U.S. neighbor Mexico with a record number of 7.03 million by January 2008, followed by El Salvador with 570,000, Guatemala with 430,000, the Philippines and Honduras with 300,000 in each. Unauthorized immigrants from South Korea totals 240,000.
Based on the report, the United States saw the largest entry of unauthorized immigrants from 1995 to 1999. About 3.26 million foreigners entered into the U.S. illegally in the period, which consists of 28 percent of the total unauthorized immigrant population of 11.6 million.
The period from 2000 to 2004 saw an illegal flow of 3.25 million immigrants. From 1990 to 1994, 1.8 million foreigners came to the U.S. illegally. The period from 2005 to 2007 saw a sharp drop of unauthorized immigrants with 1.07 million.
Males represented 57 percent of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2008. Males accounted for 62 percent of the unauthorized population in the 18 to 34 age group in 2008 while females accounted for 52 percent of the 45 and older age groups.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency contributed the drop of unauthorized immigrants to the measures taken by the agency to arrest and deport the illegal immigrants in the past years and reinforced efforts to patrol the U.S. borders.
Many Americans blamed the unauthorized or illegal immigrants on the increase of crimes and the high rate of unemployment. To curb the entry of illegal immigrants, ICE has partnered with federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement counterparts to create the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) initiative, s series of multi-agency task forces developed as a comprehensive approach to identifying, disrupting and dismantling criminal organizations posing significant threats to the U.S. border security.
Besides the intensified effort to strengthen border security, ICE also started raids on illegal immigrants at places where illegal immigrants have been hired.
In fiscal year 2007, ICE implemented a comprehensive interior enforcement strategy focused on more efficient processing of apprehended illegal aliens and reducing the criminal and fugitive alien populations. As a result, ICE removed a record 276,912 illegal aliens, including voluntary removals, from the United States.
On May 1, 2006, immigrant rights groups in Los Angeles rallied about half a million immigrants to demand for the legalization of millions of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. and urged ICE to stop raids on illegal immigrants. The rallies and protests spread to other cities such as Chicago, Miami and New York.
But the nationwide protests and rallies for immigration reform died down in late 2007 as the law enforcement intensified its efforts to arrest and deport illegal immigrants. The nationwide movement to demand for a comprehensive immigration reform failed under Bush Administration. Legalization of millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S. still remains a dream.
Immigration rights groups are pushing for a new wave of immigration reform after the election of Barack Obama as the country's new president, hoping that Obama's immigration background will make the new administration more friendly towards immigrants and provide a way for the country's illegal immigrants to become legalized.
Even opponents to legalization of unauthorized immigrants held that it is unrealistic to deport all the 11.6 million illegal immigrants in the country. Immigration rights groups are making new efforts to put pressure on legislators to find a way to solve the problem which affects millions of people.