By Arun Kumar
Washington, Feb 10 (IANS) In 2009, India accounted for the third highest increase in the number of illegal immigrants in the US in ten years, according to a new government report, though only two percent of all illegal immigrants were Indians.
The number of illegal immigrants in the US fell by seven percent to 10.8 million last year.
A majority of them came from Latin America, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report, though India with 200,000 was the sixth biggest sender of illegal immigrants to the US.
In overall numbers, Indians accounted for only two percent of illegal immigrants. Mexico (6.7 million) topped the list with 62 percent, followed by those from El Salvador (530,000), Guatemala (480,000), Honduras (320,000) and the Philippines (270,000).
Between 2000 and 2009, the Mexican-born unauthorised immigrants increased by two million or 42 percent. But the greatest percentage increases occurred among unauthorised immigrants from Honduras (95 percent), Guatemala (65 percent), and India (64 percent).
"The number of unauthorised residents declined by one million between 2007 and 2009, coincident with the US economic downturn," said the report based on census data and extrapolations from the total foreign population in the country.
Beside the US and global financial crisis, other reasons the report adduces for the drop in the undocumented population include tougher border enforcement and a national crackdown on illegal immigrants.
The overall annual average increase in the unauthorised population during the 2000-09 period was 250,000 with ten leading countries of origin representing 85 percent of the unauthorised immigrant population in 2009.
Of the nearly 11 million undocumented people living in the US in January 2009, 37 percent, or four million, arrived since January 2000, 44 percent since the 1990s and 19 percent since the 1980s, the DHS said.
Between January 2008 and January 2009, the number of unauthorised immigrants living in the US decreased seven percent from 11.6 million to 10.8 million after growing from 8.5 million to 11.8 million between 2000 and 2007, DHS said.
An estimated 8.5 million of the 10.8 million unauthorised immigrants living in the US in 2009 were from the North America region, including Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. The next leading regions of origin were Asia (980,000) and South America (740,000).
California remained the leading state of residence of the illegal immigrants in 2009, with 2.6 million, followed by Texas (1.7 million), Florida (720,000), New York (550,000) and Illinois (540,000).
California's share of the national total was 24 percent in 2009 compared to 30 percent in 2000. The greatest percentage increase in the illegal population between 2000 and 2009 occurred in Georgia (115 percent), Nevada (55 percent) and Texas (54 percent).
In 2009, 61 percent of unauthorised immigrants were aged 25 to 44 years, and 58 percent were male. Males accounted for 62 percent of the illegal population in the 18 to 34 age group in 2009 while females accounted for 52 percent of the 45 and older age groups.