Monday, March 27, 2006

Have knowledge in hand for the immigration debate

This came out in the Austin Am-Statesman yesterday. I found it to be very helpful. -Angela

Have knowledge in hand for the immigration debate

10 things you may not have known about immigration.

By Chuck McCutcheon
Sunday, March 26, 2006

WASHINGTON — Immigration is about to sweep aside foreign port ownership and lobbying scandals as the dominant election year debate on Capitol Hill, with the Senate preparing to take up a bill this week on the thorny topic. With that in mind, we've assembled 10 facts behind the headlines.

Did you know . . .

1. That during 2001-04, the number of entering legal immigrants, 3.8 million, eclipsed the 3.7 million who arrived in the 1890s during the mass migration from Europe? That's according to the U.S. Office of Immigration Statistics.

2. That after Mexico, the primary sources of legal U.S. immigrants are India, China and the Philippines? Mexico accounts for about 20 percent; the next three about 6 percent each. They are followed, at 3 percent or less, by Vietnam, El Salvador, Cuba, Haiti, Bosnia, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Ukraine, Korea, Russia and Nicaragua. These top 15 account for 60 percent of legal immigrants.

3. That there are at least 11.5 million unauthorized U.S. immigrants from all countries? The estimate, by the Pew Hispanic Center, is a figure larger than the populations of Cuba (11.3 million), Portugal (10.6 million) and Michigan (10.1 million).

4. That more than 7 million unauthorized immigrants were employed in March 2005? The number accounts for nearly 5 percent of the civilian labor force, the Pew Center estimates. These immigrants make up 36 percent of insulation workers, 29 percent of roofers, 27 percent of butchers and food-processing workers, 22 percent of maids and housekeepers and 19 percent of parking lot attendants.

5. That the percentage of immigrants, legal and illegal, in some of the nation's biggest cities remains below the era of a century ago, never mind the recent high numbers? In the early 1900s, the level of immigrants in cities such as New York and Chicago was in the 12 percent to 14 percent range, American University history professor Alan Kraut said. Today, Kraut said, the figure is about 11 percent.

6. That the "green card" is actually dark blue? It has come in a variety of colors at various times in its history, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. The changes were made to prevent counterfeiting and, later, to make it easier for machines to read. The first cards enabling unnaturalized immigrants to live and work indefinitely in the United States — a product of the Alien Registration Act of 1940 — were printed on white paper. By 1951, the form was green, but in 1964 it was pale blue and a year later changed to its current color. It also has been issued in pink and pink-and-blue.

7. That the cost of making one arrest along the U.S.-Mexico border jumped from $300 in 1992 to $1,700 in 2002? So finds a Cato Institute study by Princeton University sociologist Douglas Massey, whose measurement is in constant, year 2000 dollars.

8. That Border Patrol officials rely on more than 250 remote video camera sites and 10,500 ground sensors? The system uses radar, heat-sensitive, seismic and magnetic technologies. But as of August 2005, it covered just 4 percent of the combined northern and southern borders, according to Congress' Government Accountability Office.

9. That the number of foreigners other than Mexicans entering illegally has soared? The Border Patrol apprehended 25,000 in 1997 and more than 100,000 in 2005, according to the Congressional Research Service. A Senate bill would authorize the secretaries of state and homeland security to develop ways to help Mexico tighten its southern border to combat human smuggling from Guatemala and Belize.

10. That the Homeland Security Department releases non-Mexican illegal immigrants caught in the United States if they do not have felony convictions and do not pose a threat to national security? The reason is a lack of bed space in detention facilities. They are given a notice to appear in court for deportation proceedings, but most never show up.

The department wants to end the disparity by expanding bed space. There are about 20,000 beds, and the budget request for next year would add 6,700. Compare that to the MGM Grand Las Vegas, the country's largest hotel, which has about 8,000 beds.


  1. These are good statistics to have in hand. I think some personl stories are helpful as well to humanize the immigrants into real live flesh and blood people. Thanks.

  2. I really appreciate this post because, ashamedly, I feel more knowledgeable about the rhetoric rather than the actual facts surrounding the immigration debate. I find it sickening how human beings are being stripped of their dignity by being hunted like animals, smuggled like drugs, and regarded in similar fashion as the Jewish people were by Hitler. When the inevitable tragedy happens the headlines focus on the immigration status of individuals vs. the fact that they were fathers, mothers, daughters and sons in search of a better life for their families.

  3. Thanks for the post. Another aspect of immigration that many ignore is the extreme difficulties faced by people that actually try to play by the rules. Family based immigrants (brother or sister of US citizen) need to wait 6-7 years to get a letter to come and be evaluated for green card.
    People applying for permanent residency thru employement pay much more then the $2000 in fines proposed by the bills and still face uncertanity for years and years (6-7 on average). During that time they cannot change jobs, get promoted etc. without undermining their "green card proccess", since this requires filing of new documents and the story starts again.
    I guess since the LEGAL potential immigrants are more educated and quiter - they are less of an issue then a crying Hispanic crowd.
    How about giving a break to those who play by the rules???

  4. In response to 'question'- providing a framework for Illegals to become part of mainstream society & receive legal status should only enhance the argument for also liberalizing the Legal Immigration Proces and create momentum for that, no?