According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are 31 million foreign-born people living in the U.S. — 11.1 percent of the population, and a 57 percent increase from the 1990 census. The census further found 7.5 million undocumented individuals in the U.S., with almost 3 million undocumented aliens in California and Texas alone.

Other sources provide even higher figures. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the number of undocumented individuals in the United States is 8-12 million, while the Center for Immigration Studies puts the count at 10-11 million. Almost all sources agree that there are 700,000 to 1 million illegals entering annually, according to Richard A. Watts, an attorney in the Atlanta law firm of Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers.

These numbers mean that many employers and HR professionals who deal with workers’ compensation will eventually have to handle claims filed by undocumented workers, Watts told attendees at a July session of the SEAK National Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Medicine Conference.

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