Friday, February 8, 2008

FACTBOX: Illegal immigration in the United States

FACTBOX: Illegal immigration in the United States
Fri Feb 8, 2008 9:32am EST
(Reuters) - As the field of Democrat and Republican Party candidates for the November 2008 presidential election narrows, analysts say a heated national debate over illegal immigration may soften in tone.

Immigration has been a hot issue in the state-by-state battle to choose nominees to replace President George W. Bush . Here are some facts on illegal immigration in the United States:

* An estimated 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants live and work in the United States, roughly one in every 20 workers, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center based on government figures.

* Some 880,000 people were arrested crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in 2007, most of them from Mexico and Central America, down from 1.1 million a year earlier.

* The U.S. government had built 284 miles of fencing along the 2,000 mile (3,200-km) U.S.-Mexico border by the close of 2007, and aims to have constructed roughly 670 miles by the end of 2008.

* In 2006, President George W. Bush proposed an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, offering a path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants, together with a guest worker program, and tougher border and workplace enforcement.

* The legislation was killed by Republicans in Congress, most of whom backed tougher border security and measures to punish employers of illegal immigrants but opposed granting them the possibility of becoming citizens.

* By late 2007, state legislatures across the United States had proposed more than 1,560 immigration-related measures. Of these, more than 240 have become law in 46 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

(Writing by Tim Gaynor Phoenix, editing by Alan Elsner)

(To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at Keywords: USA POLITICS/IMMIGRATION

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