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ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT POPULATION GROWING : INS SAYS 5 MILLION RESIDING IN NATION.

Byline: Daily News Staff and Wire Services

The number of immigrants unlawfully in the United States has swelled to 5 million, including 2 million living in California, according to the latest estimates of the nation's immigration service.

Also on Friday, the agency revised up by half a million people its 1992 estimates, bringing that number to 3.9 million.

With that upward revision, INS officials estimate that nearly 80 percent of the current undocumented population was here in 1992.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service, which is deploying much of its new resources along the Southwest border, said the undocumented alien population is overwhelmingly concentrated in a handful of states - with 83 percent living in California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and Arizona.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service issued the figures Friday, reflecting estimates through October.

This marks the first time since 1992 that INS has officially estimated the size of the undocumented population, which by its very nature is hard to count.

``It's a huge indictment of the ineffectiveness of our immigration service that there are so many illegal aliens in this country,'' said Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Stein, who is a longtime critic of the INS and the Clinton administration's immigration policies, contends the agency is ignoring enforcement in the nation's interior.

INS officials defended the Clinton administration, saying the latest figures do not reflect the administration's initiatives to curb illegal immigration in the United States.

The number of illegal aliens estimated in the study accounts for just under 2 percent of the U.S. population. The estimate for California accounts for about 6 percent of the state's population.

The INS said more than half of the total undocumented population in the United States is of Mexican origin. El Salvador, Guatemala, Canada and Haiti were the other major countries of origin.

Next to California with 2 million, Texas has an estimated 700,000 illegal aliens, followed by New York, with 540,000, according to the INS.

``Illegal immigration has been a longstanding problem and controlling it requires long-term solutions,'' said Robert Bach, INS executive associate commissioner. ``The Clinton administration's buildup over the past several years, with the support of Congress, is giving us the resources necessary to begin to reverse the legacy.''

Eyleen Schmidt, a spokeswoman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Washington, said the Clinton administration budget recently presented to Congress calls for 500 new border patrol agents and ``significant improvements in our work site enforcement program, which will help reduce the job magnet that draws illegal aliens to our country.''

``The new budget also will increase resources for our alien removal efforts, which will remove criminal aliens,'' Schmidt said.

``It's impossible to correlate anything we are doing today with the numbers that were just released,'' Schmidt said. ``In perhaps two or three years we will be able to correlate what the Clinton administration has been doing to immigration numbers.''

A once chronically underfunded agency, INS has seen its fortunes improve dramatically at a time other federal entities have had to scale back. This year's budget is more than double the $1.5 billion INS received at the start of the Clinton administration in 1993. And the administration, in its 1998 budget request issued Thursday, is seeking a 13 percent increase over current funding levels.

Forty percent of the undocumented immigrants currently in the United States overstayed their visas, the agency estimates. The rest entered without inspection, crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally or coming in at other land, sea or air points.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Feb 8, 1997
Words:596
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