US gets tougher on illegal migrants

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The Independent Online
Washington - Responding to growing public pressure and the demands of the forthcoming re-election campaign, the Clinton administration is moving both at home and on the international front to clamp down on illegal immigration into the US, now reckoned to be running at 200,000 or more a year, writes Rupert Cornwell.

New Justice Department figures released yesterday show that the US deported 51,600 illegal aliens last year, up 15 per cent from 1994, and almost double the figure at the start of the decade. More than half were criminals ejected from the US after completing their sentences. The total of those turned back at US borders almost doubled in 1995, to 9,400.

Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post yesterday, an internal government report is urging the administration to insist on tougher world-wide measures against smuggling of illegal immigrants, many of whom have the US as their ultimate goal. The report notes that alongside the traditional illegal immigrant flows from Central America and the Far East, Europe too is emerging as a principal channel, following the collapse of authoritarian Communist regimes.

The stricter approach coincides with growing demands for curbs from Congress, where bills have been tabled aimed at reducing both illegal and legal immigrants.

The total illegal immigrant population here is now estimated at 4 million. Despite tougher controls, 200,000 people find a way into the US every year. Once inside, the chances of being discovered are 1 in 100.

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