Top 10 Illegal Immigration Destinations

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Top 10 Illegal Immigration Destinations

Wars, poverty, family reunification, and overpopulation are just a few reasons for immigration. Millions of people around the world are often looking to leave their home country and attempt for a better life in a country that seems to offer it. While a lot of people go the legal route, some don’t have that option and they choose to enter a specific country without proper legal documentation, which automatically turns them into illegal immigrants. For many countries, illegal immigrants have become a hot button issue.

More often than not, the most popular illegal immigrant destinations are those that are considered First World, western countries. The reason for this is that those in developing countries see these other countries as rich and full of opportunity. Democratic countries are very popular as well, especially among illegal immigrants trying to leave a place where there is a great deal of oppression. Some immigrants are even running away from abuse and genocide caused by civil wars.

The following is a list of the top ten destinations among illegal immigrants.


10. Canada

Toronto By booledozer [Public domain or CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Toronto by booledozer [Public Domain]

Like its neighbour to the south, Canada is a very popular destination for illegal immigrants because of its wide open space, low corruption, high wealth and abundant opportunities. It is estimated that there are between 35,000 and 120,000 illegal immigrants in Canada. A government report in 2008 claimed that there were at least 41,000 illegal immigrants in Canada and that is probably the most reliable data we have. As a result fear around the policies of President Donald Trump, at least 14,000 immigrants are believed to have entered Canada illegally in 2017, meaning that the total number of illegal immigrants in Canada could be higher than 50,000. However, until exits from Canada are completely tracked, this will always be guess work. (Canada has entered into an agreement with the United States to share entry information along the Canada-US border, which acts as a proxy for exit information. The agreement is still being worked out.)

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9. The Philippines

Pasig River, Manila by Bar Fabella

Manila by Bar Fabella / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Philippines is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese illegal immigration. It is estimated by the government there that about 100,000 illegal immigrants from China were in the country, making up 10 percent of the Chinese population of the country. A big reason for this is the country’s new entry procedures that allowed more Chinese tourists, and caused a tripling of the number of Chinese visitors to the country.


8. South Korea

Seoul by Emmanuel Dyan

Seoul by Emmanuel Dyan / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Due it is wealth, South Korea faces a lot of illegal immigration from North Korea, as well as countries like China. Twelve percent of all foreign nationals in the country are illegal immigrants, representing roughly 177,854 people. Illegal immigrants often come to the country from a wide variety of countries including those already mentioned, as well as Mongolia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and even the United States.


7. Brazil

Sao Paulo By User:Jurema Oliveira ( [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

Sao Paulo by Jurema Oliveira / Wikimedia Commons

With its booming economy, and location along international migration routes, it is estimated that as many 700,000 undocumented immigrants are living in Brazil. One reason that the country is proving to be a popular destination is that the government is more open to illegal immigrants than just about anywhere else. In 2009, the government legalized all immigrants in the country.


6. Malaysia

Kuala Lampur By Cmglee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Kuala Lampur by Cmglee / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Malaysia is one of the most popular destinations in Asia for illegal immigrants. It is estimated that 800,000 illegal immigrants are currently living in the country. The country has tried to stop illegal immigration by banning illegal immigrants from working certain manual labour jobs, and even sentencing them to prison and whippings. Nonetheless, people are still moving into Malaysia illegally with the hope of finding a better life.


5. Germany

Germany is one of the most popular European destinations for illegal immigrants. Between 2012 and 2013 alone, the number of illegal immigrants grew by 31 percent, to 56,000 people. According to newly released numbers, the number of illegal immigrants trying to enter Germany has reached a record high. In all, it is estimated that there are between 100,000 and one million illegal immigrants in the country. (Germany has accepted nearly 1.8 million asylum applications in the last 10 years, but these should not be confused with undocumented immigrants in Germany.)


4. The United Kingdom

London By en:User talk:Mewiki (own work) (Picture uploaded on the English-speaking Wikipedia) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

London by Mewiki / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The number of illegal immigrants moving to the United Kingdom has been increasing year after year, with between 550,000 and 950,000 illegal immigrants living in the country of 61 million. It is estimated that about 1.4 percent of the country’s population consists of illegal immigrants.


3. Russia

Moscow by Josef Stuefer

Moscow by Josef Stuefer / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Due to its size, economy and many other factors, Russia is a popular place for immigration from several European and Asian countries. It is estimated that there are 10 to 12 million illegal immigrants in the country, which far outpaces the legal immigration to the country which stands at about 200,000 immigrants per year. Illegal immigrants in Russia are viewed highly unfavourably in the country, especially because of nationalistic sentiments emphasized by the government. China is one of the most popular sources of immigration into Russia.


2. India

Udaipur By ArishG (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Udaipur by ArishG / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

India is growing in popularity as an illegal immigrant destination for people seeking refuge and a better life. It is estimated that in the country of over 1.3 billion people, there are tens of millions of illegal immigrants, including at least 1.4 million Bangladeshis in the last decade alone, but there is no way of knowing for sure. To deal with the influx of immigrants from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, barriers are being constructed along the eastern border of the country. The Bangladesh-India border is around 4,100 kilometres long, making it the world’s fifth-longest land border. The country is looking to essentially isolate itself from Bangladesh completely and it has received a great deal of criticism.  As of 2011, only 200 kilometres or so were completed.


1. The United States of America

The Statue of Liberty by Mobilus in Mobili

The Statue of Liberty by Mobilus in Mobili / Flicrk / CC BY 2.0

Without a doubt, the United States is the most popular place in the world for both legal and illegal immigrants. In all, it is estimated that roughly 20 percent of all the immigrants in the world are going to the United States. Today, 25 percent of all Americans are first or second-generation immigrants. It is estimated that there are about 10.9 million illegal immigrants in the US as of January 2016, the lowest number since 2003. According to a report published in 2010 by the Pew Hispanic Center, there were 5.5 million children born to illegal immigrants in the country, with 4.5 million of those being legal citizens because they were born in the country. It is estimated that eight percent of all newborns in the United States have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant.

Illegal immigration will continue as long as people want to find a better life, but don’t have the means to do it legally. While some countries try to help illegal immigrants, many more try to keep them out.


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