Where undocumented immigrants come from

When it comes to immigration, the average American probably thinks of illegal immigrants in terms of young, single men from Mexico but the reality is that undocumented immigrants who pass through the borders of the United States are actually a very diverse bunch.  While young, single men who work as day laborers are certainly among the batch, undocumented immigrants also comprise of women – around 40% in total – with the great majority being married couples.

It is also the case that the number one demographic in terms of illegal immigration to the United States is Latin Americans, largely from Mexico (around 55% to 60%).  Steve Caramato from the Center for Immigration Studies says that one of the reasons why so many undocumented workers are low-skilled Mexicans is because “the immigration system is easier for more educated people to navigate.”

This is still only half of the story, however, with many proportions of illegal immigrants coming from different countries other than Mexico.  The second and third countries from which most undocumented immigrants came from five years ago, back in 2008, were El Salvador and Guatemala respectively – which might have had something to do with the chilling ethnic cleansing that took place in the latter country during the 1980s and 1990s.

The next few countries among the batch are very far away from Central America – the Philippines and Honduras – with around 300,000 immigrants each, and then Korea, China, Brazil, Ecuador and India.  Surprisingly, 10% of undocumented immigrants work in white collar professional industries such as computer engineering.