Illegal immigration to the United States
An illegal immigrant in the United States is an alien (non-citizen) who has entered the United States without government permission or stayed beyond the termination date of a visa.

The illegal immigrant population of the United States
Illegal immigrant population of the United States
The actual size and the origin of the Illegal immigrant population in the United States is uncertain and difficult to ascertain because of difficulty in accurately counting individuals in this population...

 in 2008 was estimated by the Center for Immigration Studies
Center for Immigration Studies
The Center for Immigration Studies is a non-profit research organization that advocates Immigration reduction in the United States. Founded in 1985, its executive director is Mark Krikorian. As a 501 organization, it is subject to limits or absolute prohibitions on engaging in political...

 to be about 11 million people, down from 12.5 million people in 2007. Other estimates range from 7 to 20 million. According to a Pew Hispanic Center report, in 2005, 56% of illegal immigrants were from Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

; 22% were from other Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

n countries, primarily from Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

; 13% were from Asia; 6% were from Europe and Canada; and 3% were from Africa and the rest of the world.

Profile and demographics

Illegal immigrants continue to outpace the number of legal immigrants—a trend that's held steady since the 1990s. While the majority of illegal immigrants continue to concentrate in places with existing large Hispanic
Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to Hispania, which is to say the Iberian Peninsula: Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain. During the Modern Era, Hispanic sometimes takes on a more limited meaning, particularly in the United States, where the term means a person of ...

 communities, increasingly illegal immigrants are settling throughout the rest of the country.

An estimated 13.9 million people live in families in which the head of household or the spouse is an illegal immigrant. Illegal immigrants arriving in recent years tend to be better educated than those who have been in the country a decade or more. A quarter of all immigrants who have arrived in recent years have at least some college education. Nonetheless, illegal immigrants as a group tend to be 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 work in many sectors of the U.S. economy. According to National Public Radio in 2005, 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 in 2006, 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. 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.

A percentage of illegal immigrants do not remain indefinitely but do return to their country of origin; they are often referred to as “sojourners: they come to the United States for several years but eventually return to their home country."

Breakdown by state

As of 2006, the following data table shows a spread of distribution of locations where illegal immigrants reside by state.
State of Residence of the Illegal Alien Population: January 2000 and 2006
State of residence Estimated population in January Percent of total Percent change Average annual change
All states 11,555,000 100 37 515,000
California 2,930,000 25 13 53,333
Texas 1,640,000 14 50 91,667
Florida 980,000 8 23 30,000
Illinois 550,000 5 25 18,333
New York 540,000 5 - -
Arizona 500,000 4 52 28,333
Georgia 490,000 4 123 45,000
New Jersey 430,000 4 23 13,333
North Carolina 370,000 3 42 18,333
Washington 280,000 2 65 18,333
Other states 2,950,000 26 69 200,000

Number of illegal immigrants

According to the Government Accountability Office
Government Accountability Office
The Government Accountability Office is the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the United States Congress. It is located in the legislative branch of the United States government.-History:...

 (GAO), different estimates of the total number of undocumented persons are based on different definitions of the term "undocumented". There are also questions about data reliability.

The GAO has stated that "it seems clear that the population of undocumented
foreign-born persons is large and has increased rapidly." On April 26, 2006 the Pew Hispanic Center (PHC) estimated that in March 2005 the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. ranged from 11.5 to 12 million individuals. This number was derived by a statistical method known as the "residual method." According to the General Accounting office the residual estimation (1) starts with a census count or survey estimate of the number of foreign-born residents who have not become U.S. citizens
Citizenship in the United States
Citizenship in the United States is a status given to individuals that entails specific rights, duties, privileges, and benefits between the United States and the individual...

 and (2) subtracts out estimated
numbers of legally present individuals in various categories, based on administrative data and assumptions (because censuses and surveys do not ask about legal status). The remainder, or residual, represents an indirect estimate of the size of the undocumented population. Using the residential method, several different estimates of the number of undocumented persons present in the United States have been derived:
  • In August, 2006, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) placed the “unauthorized” immigrant population at 10.5 million as of January 2005 and indicates that if recent trends continued, the figure for January 2006 would be 11 million.
  • The Pew Hispanic Center’s indirect estimate of the number of illegal immigrants as of 2006 was 11.5 million to 12 million. These estimates represented roughly one-third of the entire foreign-born population.
  • According to the General Accounting Office, DHS had variously estimated the size of the undocumented population as of January 2000 as 7 million and 8.5 million.

Some unofficial private estimates put the number even higher.

From 2005 to 2009, the number of people entering the U.S. illegally declined by nearly 67%, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, from 850,000 yearly average in the early 2000s to 300,000.


The Pew Hispanic Center determined that according to an analysis of Census Bureau data about 8 percent of children born in the United States in 2008 — about 340,000 — were offspring of unauthorized immigrants. In total, 4 million U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrant parents resided in this country in 2009 (alongside 1.1 million foreign-born children of unauthorized immigrant parents). These babies are, according to the predominant interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

, American citizens from birth. These children are sometimes referred to as anchor babies by those aggressively opposed to this method of citizenship attained outside of the legal immigration process.

Present-day countries of origin

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the countries of origin for the largest numbers of illegal immigrants are as follows (latest of 2009):
Country of origin Raw number Percent of total Percent change 2000 to 2009
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

6,650,000 62% +42%
El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

530,000 5% +25%
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

480,000 4% +65%
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

320,000 3% +95%
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

270,000 2% +33%
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

200,000 2% +64%
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

200,000 2% +14%
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

170,000 2% +55%
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

150,000 1% +49%
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

120,000 1% -37%
Other 1,650,000 15% -17%

The Urban Institute
Urban Institute
The Urban Institute is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that carries out nonpartisan economic and social policy research, collects data, evaluates social programs, educates the public on key domestic issues, and provides advice and technical assistance to developing governments abroad...

 estimates "between 65,000 and 75,000 undocumented Canadians currently live in the United States."


People can be termed illegal immigrants in one of three ways: by entering without authorization or inspection, by staying beyond the authorized period after legal entry, or by violating the terms of legal entry. Their mode of violation breaks down as follows: If the suspect entered legally without inspection, then the suspect would be classified as either a "Non-Immigrant Visa Overstayer" (4 to 5.5 million) or a "Border Crossing Card Violator" (250,000 to 500,000). Together, legal entries account for 4.5–6 million unauthorized migrants, just under half of the total population. If the suspect entered illegally without inspection, then the suspect would be classified as having "Evaded the Immigration Inspectors and Border Patrol". This mode of entry accounts for 6 to 7 million people, slightly more than half of the total population. Some prospective immigrants pay a "coyote" to assist them in entering the United States illegally. The cost of a coyote can be up to $17,000.

A person can be charged with illegally re-entering the United States after being previously deported. The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines prescribe up to a 16-level offense level increase, potentially causing more than a quadrupling of one's sentence, for illegal re-entry of certain felons into the U.S. The PROTECT Act instructed the U.S. Sentencing Commission to authorize four-level "fast-track" downward departures in illegal-reentry immigration cases upon motion of the prosecutor.

Illegal entry

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 6–7 million unauthorized migrants came to the United States via illegal entry, accounting for probably a little over half of the total population. There are an estimated half million illegal entries into the United States each year.

A common means of border crossing is to hire professionals who smuggle illegal immigrants
People smuggling
People smuggling is defined as "the facilitation, transportation, attempted transportation or illegal entry of a person or persons across an international border, in violation of one or more countries laws, either clandestinely or through deception, such as the use of fraudulent documents"...

 across the border for pay. Those operating on the US-Mexico border are known informally as "coyotes".

Visa overstay

According to Pew, between 4 and 5.5 million unauthorized migrants entered the United States with a legal visa
Visa (document)
A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter the territory for which it was issued, subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. The authorization may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp endorsed in the applicant's passport...

, accounting for between 33–50% of the total population. A tourist or 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 entered the country illegally.

To help track visa overstayers 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 overstayers mostly enter with tourist or business visa
B-1/B-2 Visa
A B visa is one of a category of visas issued by the United States government to foreign citizens seeking entry for a temporary period. The two types of B visa are the B-1 visa, issued to those seeking entry for business purposes, and the B-2 visa, issued to those seeking entry for tourism or other...

s. In 1994, more than half of illegal immigrants were Visa overstayers whereas in 2006, about 45% of illegal immigrants were Visa overstayers.

Border Crossing Card violation

A smaller number of unauthorized migrants entered the United States legally using the Border Crossing Card
Border Crossing Card
A Border Crossing Card is a document that allows limited entry into the United States by visitors. The cards authorize visits to the border areas of the United States for a set amount of time...

, a card that authorizes border crossings into the U.S. for a set amount of time. Border Crossing Card entry accounts for the vast majority of all registered non-immigrant entry into the United States – 148 million out of 179 million total – but there is little hard data as to how much of the illegal immigrant population entered in this way. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates the number at around 250,000–500,000.


The United States is viewed worldwide as a highly desirable destination by would-be migrants. International polls by the Gallup organization have found that more than 165 million adults in 148 foreign countries would, if they could, move to the US, which is the most desired destination for migrants.

Economic incentives

The continuing practice of hiring unauthorized workers has been referred to as “the magnet for illegal immigration.” As a significant percentage of employers are willing to hire illegal immigrants for higher pay than they would typically receive in their former country, illegal immigrants have prime motivation to cross borders.

In 2003, then-President of Mexico, Vicente Fox
Vicente Fox
Vicente Fox Quesada is a Mexican former politician who served as President of Mexico from 1 December 2000 to 30 November 2006 and currently serves as co-President of the Centrist Democrat International, an international organization of Christian democratic political parties.Fox was elected...

 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. 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.
United States policy reforms aimed at helping the lower class often have unintended effects associated with them besides their intended target. For example, a policy put in place in a border state such as Texas or Arizona aimed at making receiving government assistance easier to lower class people, makes other people want to move to these states. An externality to this policy procedure could be the increased illegal immigration of the Hispanic population to the United States as the poor population lives better in the US than in their home country. According to the World Bank, in 2002 half of the Mexican population was living in poverty and one fifth of the population was living in extreme poverty. The National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan found in 2009 only 14.3 percent of the population in the US lived in poverty.

According to Tom Rex, who studies Arizona economy for the Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business, said immigration crackdowns, notably the state's employer-sanctions law, have driven more undocumented workers from the aboveground economy into the underground cash economy. This in turn means less tax revenue for the state of Arizona since undocumented workers who work aboveground pay income taxes according to the Arizona Republic.
Illegal immigrants boost the local economy by purchasing goods and services. Clint Hickman Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Hickman Family Farms, the largest egg producer in Arizona has said sales to supermarkets that cater to Latinos has dropped 20 percent since the passage of SB1070.

Chain immigration

According to demographer Jeffery Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

, 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. The Pew Hispanic Center describes that the recent dramatic increase in the population of illegal immigrants has sparked more illegal immigrants to cross borders. Once the extended families of illegal immigrants cross national borders, they create a “network effect” by building large communities.

US government inefficiencies

Analysts believe that costs, delays, and inefficiencies in processing visa applications and work permits contribute to the number of immigrants who immigrate without authorization. As of 2007 there was a backlog of 1.1 million green card applications, and the typical waiting time was three years.

Trade agreements and government failures

The Rockridge Institute
Rockridge Institute
The Rockridge Institute was an American non-profit research and progressive think tank founded in 1997 and located in Berkeley, California from 2003 until April 30, 2008. Its stated goal was to strengthen democracy by providing intellectual support to the progressive community...

 argues that globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

 and trade agreement affected international migration, as laborers moved to where they could find jobs. Raising the standard of living around the world, a promise the North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement
The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA is an agreement signed by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. It superseded the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement...

 (NAFTA), Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the World Trade Organization
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade , which commenced in 1948...

 (WTO), the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 (IMF), and the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, would reduce the economic incentive for illegal immigration.


Several ethnic lobbies support immigration reforms that would allow illegal immigrants that have succeeded in entering to gain citizenship. They may also lobby for special arrangements for their own group. The Chairman for the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform has stated that "the Irish Lobby will push for any special arrangement it can get — 'as will every other ethnic group in the country.'"

Mexican federal and state government assistance

The US Department of Homeland Security and some advocacy groups have criticized a program of the government of the state of Yucatan
Yucatán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Yucatán is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 106 municipalities and its capital city is Mérida....

 and that of a federal Mexican agency directed to Mexicans migrating to and residing in the United States. They claim that the assistance includes advice on how to get across the U.S. border illegally, where to find healthcare, enroll their children in public schools, and send money to Mexico. The Mexican federal government also issues identity cards
Consular identification card
Consular identification cards are issued by some governments to their citizens who are living in foreign countries. They are not certifications of legal residence within foreign countries, so CID card holders could be legal or illegal aliens. Issuing travel documents and passports are some of...

 to Mexicans living outside of Mexico.
  • In 2005 the government of Yucatan produced a handbook and DVD about the risks and implications of crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The guide told immigrants where to find health care, how to get their kids into U.S. schools, and how to send money home. Officials in Yucatan said the guide is a necessity to save lives but some American groups accused the government of encouraging illegal immigration.

  • In 2005 the Mexican government was criticized for distributing a comic book which offers tips to illegal aliens emigrating to the United States. That comic book recommends to illegal immigrants, once they have 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." The comic book does state on its last page that the Mexican Government does not promote illegal crossing at all and only encourages visits to the U.S. with all required documentation.

Groups in favor of application and enforcement of current immigration law oppose Matrícula Consular
Matrícula Consular
The Matrícula Consular de Alta Seguridad is an identification card issued by the Government of Mexico through its consulate offices to Mexican nationals residing outside of Mexico. Also known as the Mexican CID card, it has been issued since 1871...

 ("Consular Registration"), an identification card issued by the Government of Mexico
Politics of Mexico
The politics of Mexico take place in a framework of a federal presidential representative democratic republic whose government is based on a congressional system, whereby the president of Mexico is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system...

 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 the Guatemalan CID card
Guatemalan CID card
Tarjeta de Identificación Consular Guatemalteca is Guatemala's consular identification card also known as the Guatemalan CID card. Guatemala began issuing this card in the United States in August 2002 following the lead of the Mexican government's foreign consular agents in the U.S. who began...

 and the Argentinian CID card as well as a number of other CID cards issued to citizens of Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, El Salvador, and Honduras. 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. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

 and former President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 promote the use of foreign government CID cards in U.S. financial institutions. In December 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger launched Bank on California
Bank on California
Bank on California is an initiative started by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on December 12, 2008, to help Californians open a bank account. The program seeks to encourage financial institutions to relax identification requirements when opening a bank account to include Mexican CID...

 which calls on California mayors to specifically encourage the use of the Mexican CID and Guatemalan CID card by banks and credit unions as a primary identification when opening an account.

Immigration laws

Immigrants can be 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.

Section 1325 in Title 8 of the United States Code
Title 8 of the United States Code
Title 8 of the United States Code outlines the role of aliens and nationality in the United States Code.* The first eleven chapters have been repealed, omitted, or transferred to elsewhere in the Code, in their entirety.-External links:...

, "Improper entry of alien", provides for a fine, imprisonment, or both for any immigrant who:
The maximum prison term is 6 months for the first offense and 2 years for any subsequent offense. In addition to the above criminal fines and penalties, civil fines may also be imposed.

Arizona, which passed immigration enforcement law Arizona SB 1070 in April 2010, is currently the "toughest bill on illegal immigration" in the United States, and is being challenged by the Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 as encroaching on powers reserved by the United States Constitution to the Federal Government. On July 28, 2010, United States district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

 judge Susan Bolton issued a preliminary injunction affecting the most controversial parts of the law, including the section that required police officers to check a person's immigration status after a person had been involved in another act or situation which resulted in police activity.

The Mexican Constitution grants citizens freedom to travel. The Constitution stipulates also that the right to cross border migration is authorized only if other applicable laws and requirements are observed, and when certain prerequisites have been met.


The cost to immigrate illegally has also increased, encouraging longer stays to recoup the cost. Tens of thousands of illegal Mexican immigrants head each year in the direction of Mexico. While no statistics are kept on this reverse migration, researchers in both countries suggest that the numbers have declined as border controls have tightened.

In October 2008, Mexico agreed to deport Cubans
Cubans or Cuban people are the inhabitants or citizens of Cuba. Cuba is a multi-ethnic nation, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds...

 using the country as an entry point to the US. Cuban Foreign Minister said the Cuban-Mexican agreement would lead to "the immense majority of Cubans being repatriated."

Workplace investigations

Audits of employment records in 2009 at American Apparel
American Apparel
American Apparel is a clothing manufacturer in the United States. It is a vertically integrated clothing manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer that also performs its own design, advertising, and marketing...

, a prominent Los Angeles garment manufacturer, by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) uncovered discrepancies in the documentation of about 25 percent of the company's workers. This technique of auditing employment records originated during the George W. Bush presidency and has been continued under President Obama. It may result in deportations should definite evidence of illegality be uncovered, but at American Apparel the audit resulted only in the termination of employees who could not resolve discrepancies. Most fired workers, some of whom had worked a decade at the plant, reported that they would seek other employment within the United States. This technique of enforcement is much less disruptive than mass raids at workplaces, but is not popular with employers who feel targeted and threatened.


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.

At border

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is a federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security charged with regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting import duties, and enforcing U.S. regulations, including trade, customs and immigration. CBP is the...

 is responsible for apprehending individuals attempting illegal entry
Illegal entry
Illegal entry is the act of foreign nationals arriving in or crossing the borders into a country in violation of its immigration law.Migrants from nations that do not have automatic visa agreements, or who would not otherwise qualify for a visa, often cross the borders illegally in some areas like...

 to the United States. The United States Border Patrol
United States Border Patrol
The United States Border Patrol is a federal law enforcement agency within U.S. Customs and Border Protection , a component of the Department of Homeland Security . It is an agency in the Department of Homeland Security that enforces laws and regulations for the admission of foreign-born persons to...

 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
Separation barrier
A separation barrier is a wall or fence constructed to limit the movement of people across a certain line or border, or to separate two populations. These structures vary in placement with regard to international borders and topography...

 along parts of the border not already protected by separation barriers. A later vote in the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 on May 17, 2006, included a plan to blockade 860 miles (1,384 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) . In 2007 Congress approved a plan calling for more fencing along the Mexican border, with funds for approximately 700 miles (1,126.5 km) of new fencing.

"If immigrants, whether legal or illegal, are apprehended entering the US while committing a crime, they are usually charged under federal statutes and, if convicted, are sent to federal prisons."

At workplace

For decades, immigration authorities have alerted ("no-match-letters") employers of mismatches between reported employees' Social Security cards
Social Security number
In the United States, a Social Security number is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents under section 205 of the Social Security Act, codified as . The number is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, an independent...

 and the actual names of the card holders. On September 1, 2007, a federal judge halted this practice of alerting employers of card mismatches.

Illegal hiring has not been prosecuted aggressively in recent years: between 1999 and 2003, according to The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

, “work-site enforcement operations were scaled back 95 percent by the Immigration and Naturalization Service
Immigration and Naturalization Service
The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service , now referred to as Legacy INS, ceased to exist under that name on March 1, 2003, when most of its functions were transferred from the Department of Justice to three new components within the newly created Department of Homeland Security, as...

. Major employers of illegal immigrants have included:
  • Wal-Mart
    Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , branded as Walmart since 2008 and Wal-Mart before then, is an American public multinational corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the world's 18th largest public corporation, according to the Forbes Global 2000...

    . 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.

  • 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.

  • Tyson Foods
    Tyson Foods
    Tyson Foods, Inc. is a multinational corporation based in Springdale, Arkansas, that operates in the food industry. The company is the world's second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork only behind Brazilian JBS S.A., and annually exports the largest percentage of beef out of...

    . This company has also been accused of actively importing illegal labor for its chicken
    The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

     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.

  • Gebbers Farms. In December 2009, US immigration authorities forced this Brewster, Washington
    Brewster, Washington
    Brewster is a city in Okanogan County, Washington, United States. The population was 2,370 at the 2010 census.-History:In 1811, John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company established Fort Okanogan just north of the present site of Brewster, which was the first American post in Washington...

     farm known for its fruit orchards to fire more than 500 illegal workers, mostly immigrants from Mexico. Some were working with false social security cards and other false identification.


About 40% of illegal immigrants enter legally and then overstay. About 31,000 people who are not American citizens are held in immigration detention on any given day, including children, in over 200 detention centers, jails, and prisons nationwide. The United States government held more than 300,000 people in immigration detention
Immigration detention
Immigration detention is the policy of holding individuals suspected of visa violations, illegal entry or unauthorised arrival, and those subject to deportation and removal in detention until a decision is made by immigration authorities to grant a visa and release them into the community, or to...

 in 2007 while deciding whether to deport them.


An individual's deportation
Deportation means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Today it often refers to the expulsion of foreign nationals whereas the expulsion of nationals is called banishment, exile, or penal transportation...

 is determined in removal proceedings
Removal proceedings
Removal proceedings are administrative proceedings to determine an individual's removability under United States immigration law. Removal proceedings are typically conducted in Immigration Court by an immigration judge....

, administrative proceeding
Administrative proceeding
An administrative proceeding is a non-judicial determination of fault or wrong-doing and may include, in some cases, penalties of various forms. They are typically conducted by government or military institutions....

s under United States immigration law. Removal proceedings are typically conducted in Immigration Court (the Executive Office for Immigration Review
Executive Office for Immigration Review
The Executive Office for Immigration Review is an office of the United States Department of Justice and is responsible for adjudicating immigration cases in the United States. The EOIR oversees immigration courts in the United States through the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge...

) 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. Under the Obama administration
Presidency of Barack Obama
The Presidency of Barack Obama began at noon EST on January 20, 2009 when he became the 44th President of the United States. Obama was a United States Senator from Illinois at the time of his victory over Arizona Senator John McCain in the 2008 presidential election...

, deportations have increased to record levels beyond the level reached by the George W. Bush administration with a projected 400,000 deportations in 2010, 10 percent above the deportation rate of 2008 and 25 percent above 2007. Fiscal year 2011 saw 396,906 deportations, the largest number in the history of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security , responsible for identifying, investigating, and dismantling vulnerabilities regarding the nation's border, economic, transportation, and infrastructure security...

; of those, 216,698 had been convicted of crimes, including:
  • 44,653 convicted of "drug-related crime
    Drug-Related Crime
    In the United States, Illegal drugs are related to crime in multiple ways. Most directly, it is a crime to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute drugs classified as having a potential for abuse...

  • 35,927 convicted of driving under the influence
    Driving under the influence
    Driving under the influence is the act of driving a motor vehicle with blood levels of alcohol in excess of a legal limit...

  • 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses
  • 1,119 convicted of homicide
    Homicide refers to the act of a human killing another human. Murder, for example, is a type of homicide. It can also describe a person who has committed such an act, though this use is rare in modern English...


Complications in deportation efforts ensue when parents are illegal immigrants but their children are birthright citizens
Birthright citizenship in the United States of America
Birthright citizenship in the United States refers to a person's acquisition of United States citizenship by virtue of the circumstances of his or her birth. It contrasts with citizenship acquired in other ways, for example by naturalization later in life. Birthright citizenship may be conferred by...

. 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. 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.

Such was the case of Mexican Elvira Arellano
Elvira Arellano
Elvira Arellano Elvira Arellano is a Mexican mother and immigrant, who has become a symbol of the struggle for the rights of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., mostly indigenous, native, Latinos....

, who sought sanctuary
A sanctuary is any place of safety. They may be categorized into human and non-human .- Religious sanctuary :A religious sanctuary can be a sacred place , or a consecrated area of a church or temple around its tabernacle or altar.- Sanctuary as a sacred place :#Sanctuary as a sacred place:#:In...

 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 under house arrest
House arrest
In justice and law, house arrest is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to his or her residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allowed at all...

, citing her six-month old U.S.-born baby as the factor.

Mass deportation

According to The Washington Post, Rajeev K. Goyle, of the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington think tank, says he conducted a study to respond to conservative officials who have advocated mass deportations. This study claims that the cost of forcibly removing most of the nation's estimated 10 million illegal immigrants is $41 billion a year. A spokesman for Rep. Tom Tancredo calls the study "useless" because no one's talking about employing mass deportation as a tactic. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, describes the study as a cartoon version of how enforcement would work.

There have been two major periods of mass deportations in U.S. history. In the Mexican Repatriation
Mexican Repatriation
The Mexican Repatriation refers to a mass migration that took place between 1929 and 1939, when as many as 500,000 people of Mexican descent were forced or pressured to leave the US. The event, carried out by American authorities, took place without due process. Some 35,000 were deported, amongst...

 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". The majority of those removed were U.S. Citizens. 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". Later, in Operation Wetback
Operation Wetback
Operation Wetback was a 1954 operation by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service to remove illegal immigrants, mostly Mexican nationals from the southwestern United States.-History:...

 in 1954, when the United States last deported a sizable number of illegal immigrants, in some cases along with their U.S. born children (who are citizens according to U.S. 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.

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 voluntary 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.

Police and military involvement

In 1995, the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 considered an exemption from the Posse Comitatus Act
Posse Comitatus Act
The Posse Comitatus Act is an often misunderstood and misquoted United States federal law passed on June 18, 1878, after the end of Reconstruction. Its intent was to limit the powers of local governments and law enforcement agencies from using federal military personnel to enforce the laws of...

, which generally prohibits direct participation of Department of Defense personnel in civilian law enforcement activities, such as search, seizure, and arrests.

In 1997, Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 shot and killed 18 year old U.S. citizen Esequiel Hernández Jr
Esequiel Hernández Jr
Esequiel Hernández Jr was an 18-year-old American high school student killed on May 20, 1997 by United States Marines in Redford, Texas, located approximately one mile from the United States–Mexico border...

 while on a mission to interdict smuggling and illegal immigration near the border community of Redford, Texas
Redford, Texas
Redford is a census-designated place in Presidio County, Texas, United States. The population was 132 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Redford is located at ....

. The Marines observed the high school student from concealment while he was tending his family's goats in the vicinity of their ranch. At one point, Hernandez raised his .22-caliber
.22 Long Rifle
The .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge is a long established variety of ammunition, and in terms of units sold is still by far the most common in the world today. The cartridge is often referred to simply as .22 LR and various rifles, pistols, revolvers, and even some smoothbore shotguns have...

 rifle and fired shots in the direction of the concealed soldiers. He was subsequently tracked for 20 minutes then shot and killed. In reference to the incident, military lawyer Craig T. Trebilcock 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 killing of Hernandez led to a congressional review and an end to a nine-year old policy of the military aiding the Border Patrol.

After the September 11 attacks in 2001, the United States again considered placing soldiers along the U.S.-Mexico border as a security measure.
In May 2006, President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 announced plans to use the National Guard
United States National Guard
The National Guard of the United States is a reserve military force composed of state National Guard militia members or units under federally recognized active or inactive armed force service for the United States. Militia members are citizen soldiers, meaning they work part time for the National...

 to strengthen enforcement of the US-Mexico Border from illegal immigrants,
emphasizing that Guard units "will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities." 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."
The American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 (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". According to the State of the Union address
State of the Union Address
The State of the Union is an annual address presented by the President of the United States to the United States Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda and his national priorities.The practice arises...

 in January 2007, more than 6000 National Guard members have been sent to the US-Mexico border to supplement the Border Patrol, costing in excess of $750 million.

Sanctuary 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.

Many cities, including Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

Illegal immigration in New York City
An illegal immigrant refers to a foreign individual who either entered the country without official authorization from the United States Government or who entered the country with official authorization but then overstayed his or her temporary visa...

, Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, San Francisco, San Diego, Austin
Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas.Austin may also refer to:-In the United States:*Austin, Arkansas*Austin, Colorado*Austin, Chicago, Illinois*Austin, Indiana*Austin, Minnesota*Austin, Nevada*Austin, Oregon...

, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Jersey City, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Aurora, Colorado
Aurora, Colorado
City of Aurora is a Home Rule Municipality spanning Arapahoe, Adams, and Douglas counties in Colorado. Aurora is an eastern suburb of the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area . The city is the third most populous city in the Colorado and the 56th most populous city in the...

, Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

, Seattle, Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

, Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...

, and Senath, Missouri
Senath, Missouri
Senath is a city in Dunklin County, Missouri, United States. The population was 1,650 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Senath is located at ....

, have become "sanctuary cities", having adopted ordinances
Local ordinance
A local ordinance is a law usually found in a municipal code.-United States:In the United States, these laws are enforced locally in addition to state law and federal law.-Japan:...

 banning police
The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

 from asking people about their immigration status.

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.

Community-based involvement

According to a 2006 report by the Anti-Defamation League
Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League is an international non-governmental organization based in the United States. Describing itself as "the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency", the ADL states that it "fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects...

, white supremacists and other extremists were engaging in a growing number of assaults against legal and illegal immigrants and those perceived to be immigrants.

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
No More Deaths
No More Deaths is an advocacy group based in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona, USA that seeks to end the deaths of migrants crossing the desert regions near the United States-Mexico border...

 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
Immigrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border
Each year there are several hundred migrant deaths along the Mexico–U.S. border of those attempting to cross into the United States from Mexico illegally...


Wages and employment

George J. Borjas
George J. Borjas
George Jesus Borjas is an American economist and the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is most well known for his advocacy of reducing the rates of immigration to the United States.- Personal life and education :Borjas was born in Havana,...

, an economist at Harvard University, has argued that illegal immigration may reduce the economic status of U.S. poor while benefiting middle class individuals and wealthier Americans. The presence of illegal immigrants and the exploitation of them may drive down wages for certain sectors of the American populace, further widening the socioeconomic gulf between rich and poor.

Research by Borjas, Jeffrey Grogger, and Gordon H. Hanson suggests 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.

These claims are supported by impressive credentials, but not by census data. The illegal immigrant population in the United States produces an annual economic consumer demand of approximately $150 billion. The direct economic impact of $150 billion in consumer demand from illegal immigrants directly employs just under 8 million people, or about 5% of the United States workforce.

Consumer demand

Texas has the second highest population of illegal immigrants, and The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas indicates that putting a halt to current deportation policies will improve the US economy by encouraging increased economic consumption.

The decline in consumer demand created by declining immigrant population matches the start of the Great Recession that began with foreclosures in 2007. An almost identical economic decline occurred from 1929 through 1937 during the period of Mexican Repatriation
Mexican Repatriation
The Mexican Repatriation refers to a mass migration that took place between 1929 and 1939, when as many as 500,000 people of Mexican descent were forced or pressured to leave the US. The event, carried out by American authorities, took place without due process. Some 35,000 were deported, amongst...

 following the Mexican Revolution
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

, when over half a million illegal immigrants and legal US citizens of Latin descent were forcibly deported out of the country following racist campaigns by most news organizations within the US.

Reverse migration
Reverse immigration in the United States
Reverse immigration is when the population of a country is reduced by a rapid return of immigrants to the country of their origin.Reverse immigration in the United States began in 2007.-History:...

 of illegal immigrants from the US back to Mexico has reduced consumer demand in the United States due to an overall decline in the population. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, US Census estimates indicate 6 of 7 illegal immigrants are leaving the country on their own, so this trend has nothing to do with border enforcement and deportation efforts.

Taxes and social services

Illegal immigrants are estimated to pay in about $7 billion per year into Social Security.

A paper in the peer reviewed Tax Lawyer journal from the American Bar Association
American Bar Association
The American Bar Association , founded August 21, 1878, is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. The ABA's most important stated activities are the setting of academic standards for law schools, and the formulation...

 asserts that illegal immigrants contribute more in taxes than they cost in social services. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office
Congressional Budget Office
The Congressional Budget Office is a federal agency within the legislative branch of the United States government that provides economic data to Congress....

 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.


Around 2005, an increasing number of banks saw illegal immigrants as an untapped resource for growing their own revenue stream and contended that providing illegal aliens with mortgages would help revitalize local communities, with many community banks providing home loans for illegal immigrants.

Apprehension & deportation

Border control uses the latest technology to help capture illegal immigrants in the process of crossing, sometimes detain/prosecute, and send them 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 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 bussed to a gate on the border, where they re-enter Mexico." "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.

Crimes committed by illegal immigrants

California has the largest immigrant population in the US, and immigrants are under represented among prison inmates. The most recent research indicates approximately 35% of the California population consists of immigrants, while immigrants represent 17% of the prison population. This implies that immigrants are about half as likely to become involved in crime, although deporting illegal immigrants soon after incarceration lowers the immigrant prison population. In fact, U.S. born adult men are incarcerated at a rate over two-and-a-half times greater than that of foreign-born men. However, this does not separate the illegal versus legal immigrants.

The fastest growing prison demographic are functionally illiterate adult male US citizens, which is over represented by the children of immigrants that failed to obtain an education because of the English-only movement
English-only movement
English-only movement, also known as Official English movement, refers to a political movement for the use only of the English language in official government operations through the establishing of English as the only official language in the United States...

Illegal immigrants avoid involvement in criminal activity to reduce interaction with law enforcement officials, and evidence shows a decline in crime correlates with an increase in immigration in most large cities.

According to Edmonton and Smith in The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration
The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration
The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration is a 1997 study on the demographic, economic, and fiscal consequences of immigration to the United States by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences...

, "it is difficult to draw any strong conclusions on the association between immigration and crime". Cities with large immigrant populations showed larger reductions in property and violent crime than cities without large immigrant populations. Almost all of what is known about immigration and crime is from information on those in prison. Incarceration rates do not necessarily reflect differences in current crime rates.

The Center for Immigration Studies
Center for Immigration Studies
The Center for Immigration Studies is a non-profit research organization that advocates Immigration reduction in the United States. Founded in 1985, its executive director is Mark Krikorian. As a 501 organization, it is subject to limits or absolute prohibitions on engaging in political...

 in a 2009 report argued that "New government data indicate that immigrants have high rates of criminality, while older academic research found low rates. The overall picture of immigrants and crime remains confused due to a lack of good data and contrary information." It also criticized reports using data from the 2000 Census according to which 4% of prisoners were immigrants. Non-citizens often have a strong incentive to deny this in order to prevent deportation and there are also other problems. Some better but still uncertain methods have found that 20-22% of prisoners were immigrants. It also criticized studies looking at percentages of immigrants in a city and crime for only looking at overall crime and not immigrant crime as well as having other possible problems.

As of 2010, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security , responsible for identifying, investigating, and dismantling vulnerabilities regarding the nation's border, economic, transportation, and infrastructure security...

 agency (ICE) under its "Secure Communities" project has identified 240,000 illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, according to Department of Homeland Security figures. Of those, about 30,000 have been deported, including 8,600 convicted of what the agency calls "the most egregious offenses.

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. 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). The verification of the 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 illegal 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.

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.

On August 6, 2008, an audit
The general definition of an audit is an evaluation of a person, organization, system, process, enterprise, project or product. The term most commonly refers to audits in accounting, but similar concepts also exist in project management, quality management, and energy conservation.- Accounting...

 done by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement found that 122 of the 637 jail inmates in the Lake County, Illinois
Lake County, Illinois
Lake County is a county in the northeastern corner of the state of Illinois, on the shore of Lake Michigan. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 703,462, which is an increase of 9.2% from 644,356 in 2000. Its county seat is Waukegan. The county is part of the Chicago metropolitan area...

 jail were of questionable immigration status. Of those 122 originally suspected, 75 were later ordered to face deportation proceedings by the ICE. According to Lake County sheriff Mark Curran, illegal immigrants were charged with half of the 14 murders in the county.

The Arizona Department of Corrections reported in 2010 that illegal immigrants are over-represented in the state's prison population. In June 2010, illegal immigrants represented 14.8 percent of Arizona state prisoners, but accounted for 7 percent of the state's overall population according to the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, the data showed that the undocumented accounted for 40% of all the prisoners serving time in Arizona state prisons for kidnapping; 24% of those serving time for drug charges; and 13 percent of those serving time for murder.

A US Justice Department report from 2009 indicated that one of the largest street gangs in the United States, Los Angeles-based 18th Street gang
18th Street gang
18th Street gang is considered to be the largest transnational criminal gang in Los Angeles, California. It is estimated that there are thousands of members in Los Angeles County alone...

, has a membership of some 30,000 to 50,000 with 80% of them being illegal aliens from Mexico and Central America. Active in 44 cities in 20 states, its main source of income is street-level distribution of cocaine and marijuana and, to a lesser extent, heroin and methamphetamine. Gang members also commit assault, auto theft, carjacking, drive-by shootings, extortion, homicide, identification fraud, and robbery.

Another prominent street gang, Mara Salvatrucha
Mara Salvatrucha
Mara Salvatrucha is a transnational criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles and has spread to other parts of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America. The majority of the gang is ethnically composed of Central Americans and active in urban and suburban areas...

, also known as MS 13, with a membership of some 8,000 to 10,000 members in the US, is estimated to be predominantly composed of illegal immigrants (with some reporting up to 90%). MS-13 members smuggle illicit drugs, primarily powder cocaine and marijuana, into the US and transport and distribute the drugs throughout the country. Some members also are involved in alien smuggling, assault, drive-by shootings, homicide, identity theft, prostitution operations, robbery, and weapons trafficking. With over 3,000 members in Northern Virginia alone making it the largest gang in the region, MS-13 has been targeted by the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force which reports that 40% of arrests from 2003-2008 were of illegal aliens. It is also reported that 71% of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security , responsible for identifying, investigating, and dismantling vulnerabilities regarding the nation's border, economic, transportation, and infrastructure security...

(ICE) gang arrestees under "Operation Community Shield" in Northern Virginia from February 2005 to September 2007, were of EWI "Enter Without Inspection" status.

Identity theft

Identity theft
Identity theft
Identity theft is a form of stealing another person's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name...

 is associated with illegal immigrants who use social security number
Social Security number
In the United States, a Social Security number is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents under section 205 of the Social Security Act, codified as . The number is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, an independent...

s belonging to others, in order to obtain fake work documentation. However, the US Supreme Court has ruled that undocumented immigrants cannot be prosecuted for identity theft if they use "made-up" social security numbers that they do not know belong to someone else; to be guilty of identity theft with regard to social security numbers, they must know that the social security numbers that they use belong to others.

Drug trafficking

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."

Drug cartels have been reported using illegal immigrants, sometimes armed, to cultivate marijuana within American National Forests, in California's Los Padres National Forest
Los Padres National Forest
Los Padres National Forest is a forest located in southern and central California, which includes most of the mountainous land along the California coast from Ventura to Monterey, extending inland...

, Tahoe National Forest
Tahoe National Forest
Tahoe National Forest is a U.S. National Forest located in the state of California, northwest of Lake Tahoe. It includes the peak of Sierra Buttes, near Sierra City, which has views of Mount Lassen and Mount Shasta. It is located in parts of six counties. In descending order of forestland area...

, Six Rivers National Forest
Six Rivers National Forest
Six Rivers National Forest is a U.S. National Forest located in the northwestern corner of California. It was established on July 1, 1947 by U.S. President Harry S. Truman from portions of Klamath, Siskiyou and Trinity National Forests. Its over one million acres of land contain a variety of...

, and Sequoia National Forest
Sequoia National Forest
Sequoia National Forest is located in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. The U.S. National Forest is named for the majestic Giant Sequoia trees which populate 38 distinct groves within the boundaries of the forest....

, as well as in Arizona, Oregon, and Colorado.

Gang violence

As of 2005, Operation Community Shield had detained nearly fourteen hundred illegal immigrant gang
A gang is a group of people who, through the organization, formation, and establishment of an assemblage, share a common identity. In current usage it typically denotes a criminal organization or else a criminal affiliation. In early usage, the word gang referred to a group of workmen...


Members from the Salvadoran gang MS-13 are believed by authorities to have established a smuggling ring in Matamoros, Mexico. This smuggling involved transporting illegal aliens from foreign countries into the United States. MS-13 has shown extreme violence against Border Patrol security to “teach them a lesson.” "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."


Waves of illegal immigrants are taking a heavy toll on U.S. public lands along the Mexican border, federal officials say. Mike Coffeen, a biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is a federal government agency within the United States Department of the Interior dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife, and natural habitats...

 in Tucson, Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 found the level of impact to be shocking. "Environmental
Natural environment
The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species....

 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
Sasabe, Arizona
Sasabe is a small unincorporated border community in the Altar Valley of southern Pima County, Arizona, United States. It hosts a little-used United States–Mexico border crossing...

 and enough trash that a volunteer couple filled 723 large bags with 18,000 pounds of garbage over two months in 2002."

"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 incidents 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 immigrants trying to get to the United States via the Mexican border with southern Arizona are suspected of having caused eight major wildfire
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

s in 2002. The fires destroyed 68413 acres (276.9 km²) and cost taxpayers $5.1 million to fight.

National security and terrorism

Mohamed Atta
Mohamed Atta
Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta was one of the masterminds and the ringleader of the September 11 attacks who served as the hijacker-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, crashing the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the coordinated attacks.Born in 1968...

 and two of his co-conspirators had expired visas when they executed the September 11 attacks. All of the attackers had U.S. government issued documents and two of them were erroneously granted visa extensions after their deaths. 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
Mark Krikorian
Mark Krikorian is an Armenian-American anti-immigration activist. He is the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think-tank in Washington, D.C. that promotes stricter immigration control and enforcement...

 of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think-tank that promotes immigration reduction
Immigration reduction
Immigration reduction refers to a movement in the United States that advocates a reduction in the amount of immigration allowed into the country. Steps advocated for reducing the numbers of immigrants include advocating stronger action to prevent illegal entry and illegal immigration, and...

, testified in a hearing before the House of Representatives that
"out of the 48 al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 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."

Vice Chair Lee H. Hamilton
Lee H. Hamilton
Lee Herbert Hamilton is a former member of the United States House of Representatives and currently a member of the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory Council. A member of the Democratic Party, Hamilton represented the 9th congressional district of Indiana from 1965 to 1999...

 and Commissioner Slade Gorton
Slade Gorton
Thomas Slade Gorton III is an American politician. A Republican, he was a U.S. senator from Washington state from 1981 to 1987, and from 1989 to 2001. He held both of the state's Senate seats in his career and was narrowly defeated for reelection twice as an incumbent: in 1986 by Brock Adams, and...

 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." Six months after the attack, their flight schools received posthumous visa approval letters from the 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 attacks.

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, illegal immigrants within the United States have attempted to carry out other terrorist attacks as well. Three of the six conspirators in the 2007 Fort Dix attack plot
2007 Fort Dix attack plot
The 2007 Fort Dix attack plot involved a group of six radical Islamist men who conspired to stage an attack against U.S. Military personnel stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey. The alleged aim of the group was to "kill as many soldiers as possible"....

--Dritan Duka, Shain Duka, and Eljvir Duka—were ethnic Albanians from the Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

 who entered the United States illegally through Mexico with their parents in 1984. Hosam Maher Husein Smadi
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi is a citizen of Jordan who was arrested on suspicion of planning a terrorist bombing of Fountain Place, a downtown skyscraper in Dallas, Texas, on September 24, 2009....

, an illegal immigrant from Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 who remained in the United States after the expiration of his tourist visa, was arrested in September 2009 for attempting to carry out a car bomb
Car bomb
A car bomb, or truck bomb also known as a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device , is an improvised explosive device placed in a car or other vehicle and then detonated. It is commonly used as a weapon of assassination, terrorism, or guerrilla warfare, to kill the occupants of the vehicle,...

 attack against Fountain Place
Fountain Place
Fountain Place is a 60-story late-modernist skyscraper in the Arts District in downtown Dallas, Texas. Standing at a structural height of , it is the fifth-tallest in Dallas, and the 15th-tallest in Texas.-Design:...

 in Dallas.

Harm to illegal immigrants

There are significant dangers associated with illegal immigration including potential death when crossing the border
Immigrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border
Each year there are several hundred migrant deaths along the Mexico–U.S. border of those attempting to cross into the United States from Mexico illegally...

. Since the implementation of Operation Gatekeeper
Operation Gatekeeper
Operation Gatekeeper was a Clinton-era measure aimed to halt immigration at the United States–Mexico border near San Diego, California. According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the goal of Gatekeeper was "to restore integrity and safety to the nation's busiest border."Operation...

 immigrants have been funneled into more dangerous routes to get into the country. Most deaths are due to dehydration caused by the intense heats of the Arizona desert and the treacherous desert roads. Deaths also occur while resisting arrest. In May 2010, the National Human Rights Commission in Mexico accused Border Patrol agents of tasering illegal immigrant Anastasio Hernández-Rojas to death. Media reports that Hernández-Rojas started a physical altercation with patrol agents and later autopsy findings concluded that the suspect had elevated methampehatine blood levels which contributed to his death. The foreign ministry in Mexico City has demanded an explanation from San Diego and federal authorities, according to Tijuana newspapers. 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.

Furthermore, Amnesty International has taken concern regarding the excessive brutality inflicted upon illegal immigrants. The organization states that its main concerns are:
  • Numerous evidence and reports detailing cruel and excessive force by Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in which victims were “subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, including beatings, sexual assault, denial of medical attention, and denial of food, water and warmth for long periods”
  • Lack of legal representation and advice when brought to court, especially illegal immigrant children who are given no rights to a lawyer
  • The rapid branching of INS to increase security around border patrol but no such increase in the Office of the Inspector General, which conducts investigations of complaints.


Indian, Russian, Thai, and Chinese women have been reportedly brought to the United States under false pretenses. “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.”


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.”

At least 45,000 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.


Death by exposure has been reported in the deserts, particularly during the hot summer season. “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. Many migrants are also killed or maimed riding the roofs
Train surfing
Train surfing is riding or climbing on the outside of a moving train. This activity is illegal in many countries and is prohibited by administrative law.-History:...

 of cargo trains in Mexico.


Harvard political scientist and historian Samuel P. Huntington
Samuel P. Huntington
Samuel Phillips Huntington was an influential American political scientist who wrote highly-regarded books in a half-dozen sub-fields of political science, starting in 1957...

 argues in Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity
Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity
Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity, published in English in 2004, is a non-fiction work by political scientist and historian, the late Samuel P. Huntington...

that illegal immigration, primarily from Mexico, threatens to divide the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 culturally, into an Anglo-Protestant north, central, and eastern portion, and a Catholic-Hispanic southwest.

US economy

One of the most important factors regarding public opinion about illegal migration is the level of unemployment; anti-immigrant sentiment is highest where unemployment is highest and vice-versa. In July 2010, Mayor Bloomberg along with Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch
Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC, KSG is an Australian-American business magnate. He is the founder and Chairman and CEO of , the world's second-largest media conglomerate....

 announced the launching of the Partnership for a New American Economy
Partnership for a New American Economy
The Partnership for a New American Economy is a coalition of business leaders and mayors launched by Mayor Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch to influence public opinion and policymakers toward comprehensive immigration reform...

 to try to change public opinion and federal legislation in order to ease the cause for comprehensive immigration reform including amnesty for all illegal migrants in the U.S. Amnesty for illegal aliens has been offered in the past. The 1940 Alien Registry Act offered amnesty for illegal aliens in the country. According to a US Justice Department report, the majority of aliens who received amnesty under that act were European.

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 highly publicized murder of Arizona rancher Rob Krentz
Robert Krentz
Robert N. Krentz Jr. was a prominent rancher in the U.S. state of Arizona. Active in a family cattle ranching business stretching back nearly 100 years, he and his family ranch were inducted into the Arizona Farming and Ranching Hall of Fame in 2008...

 in March 2010, suspected to have been committed by an illegal immigrant, provided a strong rallying cry for immigration opponents and called public attention to other crimes— notably property crimes— committed by foreign nationals during their border crossings into the U.S. Krentz had previously reported that illegal immigrants had done over $8 million dollars in damage to his ranching operations during a five-year period, and in the wake of his murder, interviews with his family and friends focused on similar crimes and break-ins committed by immigrants.

The potency of anti-immigrant public sentiments generated by the murder was demonstrated a few weeks later, when Arizona responded by passing Arizona SB1070, the nation's toughest state immigration law. While the law's writers have defended Arizona's new illegal immigration law by opining that it is necessary to fight violent crime. Though admitting an increase in border-related violence, such as home invasions and kidnappings, Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris stated his disagreement with the law, arguing that it will distort police priorities. Pinal County
Pinal County, Arizona
-2010:Whereas according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau:*72.4% White*4.6% Black*5.6% Native American*1.7% Asian*0.4% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander*3.8% Two or more races*11.5% Other races*28.5% Hispanic or Latino -2000:...

 Sheriff Paul Babeu, in an interview on Horizon, said it is "absolutely appropriate" for law enforcement officers to question people about their immigration status during a routine stop or investigation. The law sparked protests in Arizona and elsewhere, as well as led to the boycott of Arizona by cities and communities nationwide.

A 2008 report by the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California
Public Policy Institute of California
Public Policy Institute of California is an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit research institution. Based in San Francisco, California, the institute was established in 1994 with a $70 million endowment from William Reddington Hewlett...

 analyses crime and immigration in California. Since most criminals are young adults, the study considered the proportion of foreign-born young adults in the general population compared to those in the prison population. The researchers found that, while foreign born young adults represented about 35% of California's population, they only represented about 17% of the prison population. The study concludes that "immigrants are underrepresented in California prisons compared to their representation in the overall population." Such findings suggest that immigrants are less likely to be involved in criminal activity than non-immigrants.


71% of respondents in a 2006 Quinnipiac University Poll
Quinnipiac University Poll
The Quinnipiac University Poll is an opinion poll research operated by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut...

 believed that enforcement of immigration laws will require additional measures beyond a border fence, with 65% of respondents supporting employer fines. 77% of respondents to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll support employer fines.

A later 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. In a CBS News/New York Times poll, 69% of Americans favor prosecuting and deporting illegal immigrants; 33% favor deporting those who have lived and worked in the U.S. for at least two years.

The Manhattan Institute
Manhattan Institute
The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is a conservative, market-oriented think tank established in New York City in 1978 by Antony Fisher and William J...

 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%. The Quinnipiac poll reports that 65% of adults support a guest worker program for illegal immigrants.

Following the passage of Arizona's Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act
Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act
The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act is a legislative Act in the U.S. state of Arizona that at the time of passage was the broadest and strictest anti-illegal immigration measure in recent U.S. history...

 in April, 2010, which authorizes police officials to question persons on their immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that they are illegally in the country or committing other violations not related to their immigration status, numerous polls showed widespread support for the law. A Rasmussen
Rasmussen Reports
Rasmussen Reports is an American media company that publishes and distributes information based on public opinion polling. Founded by pollster Scott Rasmussen in 2003, the company updates daily indexes including the President's job approval rating, and provides public opinion data, analysis, and...

poll found that 60% of the electorate support such a law while 31% are opposed to such a law. A New York Times poll showed similar results: 51% of Americans felt the law was "about right" in its dealings with illegal immigration, 9% felt that its measures did not go far enough to address the problem while 36% have negative opinions regarding such a law.

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%).

In an 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?" 35% gave their support; 56 percent disagreed. The same poll noted a huge majority, 81%, believes local and state police should help federal authorities enforce laws against illegal immigration.

Federal response

In choosing a presidential candidate, most respondents to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll 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.

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." 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..."

State and local response

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll, most respondents (55%) believe state or local police forces should arrest illegal immigrants they encounter who have not broken any state or local laws.

The previously cited CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll poll indicates that most respondents (76%) are against state governments issuing 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 illegal 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 license
that would allow these immigrants to drive but would also identify them as not having legal status."

Further, most respondents (63%) in the above-mentioned 2006 Quinnipiac University Poll support local laws passed by communities to fine businesses that hire illegal immigrants while 33% oppose it.
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