Crunching the numbers for U.S. immigration

As the controversy around illegal immigration in Arizona and throughout the U.S. continues to simmer, the plight of immigrants remains the same; deportation. This is shown in an Aug. 21 Fox News story about more than 100 illegal immigrants who were abandoned in the state, according to Border Patrol officials.

Agents found 128 immigrants in a remote area of the desert. Among them were several children, some just four years old. They came from El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, and many adults had received previous immigration violations. They were medically evaluated, found in good health, and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for removal.

According to the American Immigration Council, the U.S. has set an annual limit of 675,000 people worldwide who can obtain permanent immigrant status, with some exceptions made for immediate family members. From that number, limits are set in separate categories of immigrants. For families of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, there is a limit to the number of people you can sponsor from your family.

For permanent employment-based immigrants, the annual limit is 140,000, divided into five different groups. The annual number of visas allotted in these preference categories are:

  • 40,000 people with “extraordinary ability” in athletics, arts, science, business and more.
  • 40,000 people in these same categories with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities.
  • 40,000 skilled workers, professionals and other, unskilled workers.
  • 10,000 “special immigrants” such as religious workers, employees of U.S. posts abroad and other aliens.
  • 10,000 people who plan to invest between $500,000 and $1 million in a business that hires at least 10 full-time workers in the U.S.

Along with these categories, the U.S. accepts a certain number of refugees and those seeking asylum from different world regions. This year, the U.S. limit is 25,000 from Africa, 13,000 from East Asia and 3,000 from Latin American and the Caribbean.

In addition to these immigration methods, the U.S. also offers a deferred deportation for those fleeing unstable home countries and temporary protection for those whose homes have experienced natural disasters or are caught in an ongoing war. Granting of either of these statuses can lead to permanent residency, however, there is no guarantee. 

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