Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has made illegal immigration a cornerstone of his campaign, proposing a simple solution for the nation’s immigration woes: build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said, if elected president, he would seek out and deport anyone in the country illegally. In contrast, Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposes “a path to full and equal citizenship.” The varied policy proposals by presidential candidates reflect the schism of opinion among Americans on immigration issues.
Despite immigration being a key talking point on the campaign trail, the numbers don’t always match up with the hype. People living in the country illegally have impacted the workforce, lowering wages and job availability for U.S. citizens without a high school diploma. But other data points suggest a positive impact. This diverse group makes up5.1 percent of the U.S. workforce and pays an estimated $12 billion into Social Security. Contrary to the amount of attention the issue gets, the number of documented people in the U.S., estimated at almost 11 million, is actually on the decline.
In order to better comprehend this issue, InsideGov synthesized the most recent estimates and broke down the undocumented immigrant population groups by country of birth. This information comes from the Migration Policy Institute’s “Unauthorized Immigrant Population Profiles,” which was published in 2013 and contains the most recent data estimates. We then ranked the 25 U.S. states with the largest populations of people living there illegally, and ordered the states from smallest to largest undocumented populations.
Estimate of Undocumented Population: 247,000
A Virginia immigration law passed in 2007 by Prince William County required police to investigate the citizenship status of suspects under arrest. Thisordinance is still in effect.
Estimate of Undocumented Population: 264,000
The passing of Senate Bill 1070 reflected the severity of immigration issues in Arizona. This controversial lawallows police to pull over motorists on the assumption they may be in the country illegally. Most of the law’s provisions were overturned in the Supreme Court decision Arizona v. United States.
Estimate of Undocumented Population: 342,000
Wildin Acosta, a North Carolina high school student and undocumented immigrant from Honduras, was arrested in 2016. His deportation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was stalled following weeks of community protests. Rep. G.K Butterfield, D-N.C., stated, “It is my hope that he will be eventually granted asylum in the United States.”
Estimate of Undocumented Population: 393,000
Republican Gov. Nathan Deal came under fire in 2014 due to comments he made during a forum at the University of Georgia. He “presumed” that one of the students in the audience arrived in the country illegally as a child. Lizbeth Miranda, the student, responded: “I’m not an illegal immigrant. I’m not. I don’t know why you would have thought that I was undocumented. Was it because I look Hispanic?”
Estimate of Undocumented Population: 509,000
New Jersey’s Ellis Island, a historic gateway to the United States for immigrants, processed over 12 million arrivals during its 62 years of operation. Famous Americans such as Charlie Chaplin and Cary Grant came through the immigration center.
Estimate of Undocumented Population: 519,000
Illinois passed legislation in 2014 that allows residents to receive kidney transplants, regardless of their legal status. The program could be financially beneficial by offsetting the cost of emergency dialysis services, which are part of a state-funded program.
Estimate of Undocumented Population: 605,000
Florida holds a significant population of Cuban immigrants. Many make the dangerous journey across the Florida Strait from Cuba on rafts in an attempt to secure citizenship. The United States has a special immigration policy for Cubans, informally referred to as the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, where those who successfully make the journey to U.S. soil can apply for legal status after one year.
Estimate of Undocumented Population: 867,000
Many immigrants without proper documentation in New York claim Asia as their area of birth. They represent 10 percent of the total undocumented population in the United States. The nightmarish plight of Asian migrants received publicity in 1993 when a ship smuggling Chinese immigrants ran aground in Queens, New York. This resulted in the death of some passengers and revelations regarding the unsafe conditions of the criminal-run smuggling enterprise.
Estimate of Undocumented Population: 1,464,000
A case against Texas, stemming from the refusal to issue birth certificates for U.S.-born children, made its way to federal courts in 2015. Texas officials required specific forms of ID from the mother before issuing her child’s certificate, which immigrants without documentation could not produce.
Estimate of Undocumented Population: 3,034,000
California has the largest population of immigrants without proper documentation. The state provides avariety of benefits and protections to these populations. The City of Huntington Park attracted controversy when it was revealed that two members of city commissions were undocumented immigrants from Mexico.