What does everyone think… are there less day laborers ‘hanging out’ in the city each morning these days despite what this story says?
ATLANTA – Between 2000 and 2005, Georgia had the nation’s largest percentage increase in illegal immigrants, with an average of 50,000 coming in annually, according to a Department of Homeland Security report released Friday.
More than 12 percent of the estimated 408,000 illegal immigrants who entered the country annually on average in the last five years wound up in Georgia, the government said.
While California and Texas lead the nation both in terms of illegal immigrants living there and moving there, Southeastern states are gaining immigrants at a rapid pace.
Georgia’s increase is 114 percent, and North Carolina saw a 38 percent increase. Georgia was home to 470,000 illegal immigrants in 2005, up from 220,000 in 2000. North Carolina went up to 360,000 from 260,000 in the same period.
The Office of Immigration Statistics estimates nearly 11 million illegal immigrants lived in the U.S. by January 2006, with nearly a third being recent arrivals from 2000 onward. About 6 million of the immigrants came from Mexico, and more than a million others came from El Salvador, Guatemala, India and China.
Earlier this year, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue signed Senate Bill 529, which is considered one of the toughest immigration measures in the nation. It requires verification that adults seeking many state-administered benefits are in the country legally. It sanctions employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and mandates that companies with state contracts check the immigration status of employees.
The bill does not take effect until next July.
“This report confirms what Governor Perdue already recognizes – that the state of Georgia is heavily impacted by illegal immigrants,” said Perdue spokeswoman Heather Hedrick. Perdue, who’s running for re-election, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Taylor have been bickering over cracking down on immigration.
Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement rolled out two new fugitive teams in Atlanta and Raleigh, N.C., dedicated to finding illegal immigrants who have defied their deportation orders. The agency said it decided where to locate the teams based on where most fugitives are. There are now 45 teams nationwide.