Saturday, April 08, 2006

Illegal Immigration in Alaska

Special Note: Post updated on August 13th to correct superseded link to the first image in this post.

They may not be out in the streets of Anchorage demanding their own continent like they were in Los Angeles two weeks ago (see picture at left). But they're here nonetheless, according to a story filed in the Anchorage Daily News on April 8th, 2006. According to the last official estimate given by U.S. census in 2000, as many as 5,000 illegal immigrants were in Alaska at that time, most of them congregated in the seafood and service sectors.

Not only is the 5,000 figure likely an underestimate, but it's growing too, in proportion to legal immigration, which is changing the face of . According to 2004 census figures, about 7% of Alaska's population was born outside the United States. However, 1 out of 11 Anchorage residents was born outside the U.S. and 1 out of 7 speaks a primary language other than English at home. Over 90 different languages are spoken within the Anchorage School District (ASD). And while 27% of Anchorage residents are non-white, 44% of the ASD student population is non-white according to the ASD Ethnicity Report for 2004-5 . Immigrants are not only arriving in increasing numbers, but are apparently reproducing themselves faster than native-born Americans.

Virginia Kice, a California-based spokeswoman for U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), could not give specific statistics for , but she stated that in 2005, the U.S. deported 3,977 illegal immigrants from the Northwest region (Alaska, Washington, and Oregon).

A further examination of the ICE website reveals the magnitude of the problem nationwide. According to the Office of Immigration Statistics Annual Report from 2004, most of the problem originates in Mexico. This could be expected since we share a border with Mexico, but is further exacerbated by the economic disparity between the U.S. and Mexico. Here are some pertinent statistics from the report:

1). Out of 1,241,089 foreign nationals apprehended in 2004, 92% were natives of Mexico.

2). Out of 202,842 foreign nationals formally removed from the U.S., 73% of them originated in Mexico.

3). Out of 88,897 criminal aliens removed from the U.S. in 2004, 77% of them were from Mexico.

4). Ninety-eight percent of Border Patrol apprehensions took place along the southwest border.

Because of the unusual nature of the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, an "all-or-nothing" solution may not work effectively. To best resolve the Mexican problem, perhaps it's appropriate to deal with Mexican illegals differently than other illegals. See my previous post for a suggested approach.

Check FAIR's website for additional information about immigration in Alaska.

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