US undocumented population declines to 11-year low

A new report released Wednesday by the Center for Migration Studies shows that the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. is starting to decline after reaching a peak in 2007, and is at its lowest level since 2003.

In fact, the illegal population has retreated every year since 2008, with every major immigration group declining except those originating from Central America. The illegal immigrant population from Mexico, South America, and Europe has declined by 9 percent, 22 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

The report’s numbers are based on the 2014 census, when it is estimated there were approximately 10.9 million undocumented persons in the country.   A separate study done in 2015 by Pew Research estimated there were 11.3 million people in the U.S. illegally as of 2014.

The demographics of the illegal immigrant population are also changing in the U.S., as the majority are now at least 35 years old and have been in within the borders for 10 years or longer.

Migration Studies’ report also shows that illegal immigrants are spreading out geographically, as three of the top five states with the largest amount of undocumented immigrants have lost people in that demographic.  Only two of the top 10, Texas and Virginia, grew in their population of illegals.


courtesy Pew Research

courtesy Pew Research


In related news, the Department of Homeland Security published a report on Tuesday which showed that 527,127 people overstayed their U.S. visas in Fiscal Year 2015.  482,781 of those over-stays are now suspected to be here illegally.

Immigration has been a hot-button issue on the campaign trail this election cycle.  Republicans generally favor tighter border security and more limitations on the number of people who are let in, while Democrats tend to emphasize bringing undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. into the system through amnesty programs so they will be more likely to assimilate into American society.

Whatever the solution, U.S. immigration policy is still a worthwhile subject to have a national debate on, despite a slight decrease over the past seven years: since 1990, the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. has tripled.

As of 2014, California leads the nation in undocumented population with 2.6 million, followed by Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.


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