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U.K. and Germany host most illegal migrants among European countries

Worried-looking migrants from the Middle East are rescued at sea
Migrants and refugees rescued near a Greek island. Photo: Angelos Tzortzinas/AFP via Getty Images

There were between 3.9 million to 4.8 million unauthorized immigrants living in Europe as of 2017, according to new analysis from Pew.

The flipside: The study shows virtually no illegal immigration to countries like Hungary and Poland, where political leaders have seized upon widespread antipathy to immigration.

By the numbers: Most unauthorized immigrants in Europe lived in Germany (1 million–1.2 million), the U.K. (800,000–1.2 million), Italy (500,000–700,000) or France (300,000–400,000).

  • Unauthorized immigrants account for no more than 2%, and in most cases less than 1%, of populations in countries across Europe.

In the U.S., meanwhile, Pew's estimate as of 2017 is 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants, or 3.2% of the total population.

  • While nearly half in the U.S. hail from Mexico, that's only the case for 20% of those arriving in the last five years, with similar numbers coming from Northern Triangle countries (17%) and countries in Asia (23%).

Regional breakdown across Europe: Asia-Pacific (30%), within Europe (23%), Middle East/North Africa (21%), sub-Saharan Africa (17%), the Americas (8%).

  • The numbers skew higher for Middle East/North Africa (30%) in Germany and Asia-Pacific (52%) in the U.K.
  • The deaths of 39 Vietnamese people in the back of a truck last month focused attention on migration from that country to the U.K.

Go deeper: Why the migrant crisis is happening now