Thursday, August 19, 2010


Thousands of undocumented Filipinos in the United States, sometimes called TNTs (Tago Ng Tago, translated as "always hiding") voluntarily went home last year, avoiding possible detention and deportation, according to the US Department of Homeland Security.

The DHS published this week the Immigration Enforcement Actions report for 2009.

The report showed a total of 18,820 Filipinos were returned without a removal order.

“Each year, the Department of Homeland Security undertakes immigration enforcement actions involving hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals. These actions include the arrest, detention, return and removal from the United States of foreign nationals who violate US immigration law,” the report explained.

A “return” in DHS parlance is the confirmed movement of a deportable alien out of the US not based on an order of removal.

Thus, Filipinos comprised the third biggest group, next only to Mexicans (465,205) and Canadians (25,376) who went back to their home countries of their own volition.

There are an estimated four million Filipinos in the US and some experts say as many as one in four could be undocumented.

The DHS pegs the number of Pinoy TNTs at 270,000, a 33 percent increase since 2000 and representing about two percent of illegal immigrants in the US.

In contrast, over 60,000 Filipinos legally immigrated to the US last year, a slight increase over 2008 (54,030) but still lower than the 2007 numbers of 72,596.

The DHS also reported the arrest of over 613,000 foreign nationals, mostly from Mexico.

But among them were 457 Filipinos believed to be illegally living in the US.

Among Asians, nationals from China (2,363) and India (767) accounted for most of foreigners nabbed by immigration agents.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the apprehensions happened in the US-Mexico border.

Most of the arrests were made in Arizona, which is pushing a controversial new law that compels the police to check on the immigrantion status of people they stop for other reasons. Activists say that would lead to racial profiling.

Despite Arizona officials' claims that federal agencies weren't doing enough to stem illegal immigration at the border, the DHS report shows that its Tucson, Arizona jurisdiction has consistently topped the number of apprehensions compared to any place in the US-Mexico border since 1998.

The DHS reported the deportation of 128,000 foreigners for criminal activities.

They included 681 Filipinos – 253 of whom already had criminal convictions.

Most of these cases involved illegal drug activity. But another interesting sidelight in the report was the revelation that as many illegal aliens run afoul with the law for traffic offenses, especially drunk driving, as immigration violations.

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