Illegal immigration refers to any immigration practice which violates immigration rules. In most cases, however, when we speak of illegal immigration, we are talking about undocumented immigrants entering the country across the borders without going through the US immigration process.
Due to the nature of illegal immigration, getting accurate figures about the phenomena is difficult. Since illegal immigrants are undocumented, there is obviously no way to ascertain for certain exactly how many such immigrants there might be in the US. According to Reuters, on January 1, 2009, there were approximately 10.8 million undocumented immigrants residing in the United States. The same news source reported that the vast majority of these immigrants were from Latin America, with approximately 6.7 million immigrants arriving from Mexico and 1.33 million immigration from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras.
One of the main regions affected by illegal immigration is the Southwest. States such as Texas and Arizona have common borders with Mexico, making it easier for undocumented immigrants to slip into these states. For example, in 2009, about 400 000 of Arizona’s 6.6 million residents were illegal immigrants.
The US has many laws which aim to crack down on undocumented immigrants, but such laws often provoke controversy. Advocates of strict immigration laws point out that such laws are necessary to preserve local jobs and taxpayer dollars. They also note that such laws help prevent criminals from entering the US. Opponents of such laws point out that illegal immigrants often do jobs that American citizens and residents do not want. These opponents believe that employers who hire illegal labor should be punished, rather than those who are simply looking for a better life in the US. Another frequent problem is that some undocumented immigrants stay in the US for years, and give birth in the US, making their children automatic US citizens. Punishing these undocumented immigrants or trying to deport them could break apart families.
Despite the controversies over the laws, there is evidence that immigration laws are strictly enforced. Hundreds of arrests are made at every US border crossing each year. Between January and April 2010, The Tucson sector of the U.S. Border Patrol averaged 650 arrests per day. Between January and March 2010, 1180 immigration-related resolutions and bills were introduced in US states. It is likely that the new bills and regulations may increase the number of arrests and illegal immigrants caught.
Of course, as in every news story, the numbers only tell part of the picture. Behind all the statistics and numbers are Americans and immigrants whose lives are affected by illegal immigration. Virtually everyone is affected by this topic. Legal immigrants face stricter rules and suspicion because of the actions of illegal immigrants. Americans worry about the subject, and undocumented immigrants face more and more legal ramifications for their actions.