Now immigration expert says 30,000 Kenyans in US illegally,contradicts Odembo


Some 30,000 Kenyans are living in the United States without authorisation, an expert on immigration to the US said Thursday.

The total number of Kenyans in the US does not exceed 90,000, said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at the Washington-based Pew Research Centre.

Mr Passel’s estimates starkly contradict the recent claim by Kenya’s former US ambassador, Elkanah Odembo, that at least half of a supposed total of 400,000 Kenyans in the US do not have valid visas.

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Mr Passel told the Nation that his figures are based on data from the US Census Bureau and an official count of all visa admissions to the United States.

Mr Odembo is one of many diplomats who wildly overestimate the number of nationals from their respective countries who are living in the US, Mr Passel said.


“Off-the-cuff numbers that are thrown around tend to be way off,” he observed.

“Embassies in particular tend to think there are a lot more people from their countries in the US than the data supports.”

Such inflated calculations “increase the visibility and importance of a country within the United States,” Mr Passel noted.

In some cases, he added, a national of another country who has registered with that country’s embassy continues to be counted as residing in the US even after that person has left. Many people who register do not inform an embassy when they depart the United States, Mr Passel explained.

His estimate of between 70,000 and 90,000 Kenyans in total in the US is consistent with the figure included in a 2011 study by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute. It put the number of Kenyans in the US with and without visas at about 87,000.

In accordance with that total, Kenya ranks fifth among African countries of origin for immigrants to the US, accounting for less than 6 per cent of the 1.5 million Africans living in the US as of 2009.

The migration institute study identified Nigeria as the top source of Africans in the US: 210,000. Ethiopia, with 148,000 of its nationals in the US, was said to be the leading country of origin in East

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