Indians Comprise the Third Largest illegal immigrant Population in the US: Pew Study

A recent study by the Pew Research Center has revealed a significant shift in the demographic landscape of illegal immigration in the United States. Indians now comprise the third largest population of undocumented immigrants in the country, with an estimated 725,000 individuals residing without legal authorization. This substantial increase has raised concerns about the factors driving this trend and the potential impact on both the US immigration system and the Indian community.

A Growing Trend

The rise in undocumented Indian immigration is a relatively recent phenomenon. Prior to 2010, Indians had consistently ranked among the top ten largest groups of illegal immigrants in the US, but their numbers were relatively small. However, over the past decade, there has been a dramatic surge, with the Indian immigrant population increasing by over 60%. This growth has been particularly pronounced in recent years, with the number of undocumented Indian immigrants apprehended at the US-Mexico border increasing fivefold between 2019 and 2022.

Factors Driving the Increase

Several factors have contributed to the increase in undocumented Indian immigration. One of the most significant is the expanding economic opportunity in the US. The US economy offers a plethora of employment opportunities, particularly in high-tech industries, attracting skilled Indian workers seeking better career prospects and higher earning potential. Additionally, the US has a strong education system, with many Indian students pursuing higher education in the country and then choosing to remain for employment opportunities.

Another key factor is the strong family network of Indian immigrants in the US. Many Indians immigrate to the US to join family members who are already established there, relying on their support and guidance as they navigate their new environment. This family network plays a crucial role in facilitating the migration of undocumented individuals.

Challenges and Considerations

The increase in undocumented Indian immigration presents a range of challenges for both the US and the Indian community. Undocumented immigrants face significant legal and social barriers, including limited access to employment, housing, and government benefits. They are also constantly at risk of deportation, which can cause anxiety and fear.

Moreover, the rise in undocumented Indian immigration has raised concerns about the potential impact on the Indian community in the US. Some fear that the association of Indians with undocumented immigration could lead to increased scrutiny and discrimination against the entire community.

Addressing the issue of undocumented Indian immigration requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses both policy reforms and community support. Comprehensive immigration reform could provide a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants, allowing them to come out of the shadows and contribute to the economy. Additionally, targeted enforcement efforts should focus on individuals who pose a threat to public safety or national security, rather than indiscriminately targeting all undocumented immigrants.

Community-based organizations can play a critical role in providing support services to undocumented Indian immigrants, helping them navigate the challenges they face and access essential resources. These organizations can also work to educate the public about the contributions of undocumented immigrants and dispel negative stereotypes.

Despite a rise in Indians entering the US illegally, Pew's insights reveal a larger picture of declining trends in the overall illegal immigrant population. In 2021, the number of unauthorized immigrants stood at 10.5 million, below the peak of 12.2 million in 2007. This figure mirrored 2004 and was lower than every year between 2005 and 2015. The decrease continued, with the unauthorized immigrant population dropping by 1.75 million or 14% between 2007 and 2021. As of 2021, these individuals represented about 3% of the total US population and 22% of the foreign-born population, marking the lowest shares since the 1990s.

Mexico remains the most common birth country for unauthorized immigrants, but its population saw a notable decline of 900,000 from 2017 to 2021, now standing at 4.1 million. The second-largest illegal population comes from El Salvador, numbering 800,000.

Breaking down the statistics, after India with 725,000, Guatemala takes the fourth spot at 700,000, and Honduras ranks fifth with 525,000 citizens. Remarkably, all three countries, India, Guatemala, and Honduras, have witnessed an increase in their unauthorized immigrant populations since 2017.

Pew's examination of geographic distribution showcases that in 2021, California (1.9 million), Texas (1.6 million), Florida (900,000), New York (600,000), New Jersey (450,000), and Illinois (400,000) held the largest unauthorized immigrant populations. Yet, the concentration in these states has decreased, accounting for 56% of the nation's total in 2021 compared to 80% in 1990. This shift indicates a dispersal of the unauthorized immigrant population across the United States, highlighting evolving patterns and complexities in immigration trends.