Illegal Immigration Down Sharply Across the Country, Says New Report

According to a new report released today by the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States has dropped to 11.1 million in 2009 from a peak of 12 million in 2007, an 8 percent decline.   The researchers note that this is the "first significant reversal" in illegal immigrant growth in the last twenty years.

The study found that fewer illegal immigrants came to the United States every year between 2007 and 2009 than in years in the first half of the decade.   Specifically, approximately 300,000 illegal immigrants came to the U.S. annually between 2007 and 2009, a significant drop from the estimated 850,000 people who illegally entered the country each year between 2000 and 2005. 

The study cited the ongoing recession and increased border enforrcement as possible reasons for the decline. 

The study also found that:

  • Of the estimated 11.1 million people living in the U.S. illegally, the vast majority (8.9 million) came from Mexico and other Latin American countries.  Mexico accounted for 60% of unauthorized immigrants in 2009 - 6.7 million people.  Other Latin American countries accounted for 20% of the total, or 2.2. million people  South and East Asia accounted for 11% of the total, or 1.2 million people.
  • Unauthorized immigrants accounted for 28% of the nation’s foreign-born population in 2009, a decline from 31% in 2007.
  • California still has the largest number of illegal immigrants in the country, with 2.6 million, up from approximately 1 million in 1990. 
  • States with the largest shares of immigrants in the labor force are Nevada (9.4%), California (9.3%), Texas (8.7%) and New Jersey (8.7%).
  • Virginia, Florida, and Nevada were among the states with the largest declines in their populations of illegal immigrants.
  • In 2009, 59% of unauthorized immigrants resided in California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois and New Jersey. However, the share living in those states has declined from 80% in 1990, as unauthorized immigrants have dispersed to new settlement areas.
  • The unemployment rate for illegal immigrants is 10.4 percent higher than that of either U.S.- born residents or legal immigrants.

You can read the entire report - "U.S. Unauthorized Immigration Flows Are Down Sharply Since Mid-Decade" - at http://pewhispanic.org/files/reports/126.pdf. 

The Pew Hispanic Center is a project of the Pew Research Center.