May 1 Thousands of Hispanic, religious and
labor activists are expected to join May Day rallies in cities
across the United States on Saturday, protesting Arizona's
tough crackdown on illegal immigrants and urging President
Barack Obama to overhaul federal immigration laws.
Here are some facts about illegal immigrants in the United
States, together with details of the controversial Arizona
state law, reform initiatives backed by Obama, and measures
enacted by other states:
* There were an estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants
living in the United States on Jan. 1, 2009.
* Most were from Latin America, with some 6.7 million from
Mexico and 1.33 million from Central American nations El
Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
* Arizona had a total population of 6.6 million in 2009,
including an estimated 460,000 undocumented immigrants.
* Arizona, which borders Mexico, is the principal corridor
for illegal immigrants entering the United States. The U.S.
Border Patrol's Tucson sector has made an average of 650
arrests a day this year.
* President Obama backs a comprehensive overhaul of federal
immigration laws. Any reform bill has a slim chance of passage
in Congress this year. Obama has said lawmakers may not have
the appetite to tackle it ahead of the November elections. But
some Democrats fear delay could cause a backlash among Latino
* Obama supports a system that allows undocumented
immigrants in good standing to pay a fine, learn English and
become citizens. He also backs tightening border security and
clamping down on employers that hire undocumented workers.
* The last attempt to overhaul the U.S. immigration system,
by his predecessor, President George W. Bush in 2007, was
torpedoed by Republicans in Congress.
* Arizona's law is the toughest, but by no means the only,
immigration-related measure passed by U.S. states, which
traditionally leave border security to the federal government.
* Under Arizona's new law, state and local police officers
are required to arrest those unable to provide documentation
proving they are in the country legally. It also makes it a
crime to transport someone who is an illegal immigrant, and to
hire day laborers off the street.
* In the first three months of this year, more than 1,180
bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees were
introduced in state legislatures across the country. Of those
bills, 71 laws were enacted and 87 resolutions adopted in 25
Sources: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Census
Bureau and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; editing by Stacey Joyce)