Findings from an analysis of Census Bureau data by Pew Research Center released Tuesday shows that the number of illegal immigrants living in the United States declined steadily from 2009 to 2015 despite improved economic conditions following the 2008 financial crisis.
Pew compiled statistics from surveys conducted by the federal agency, estimating how many “unauthorized” individuals are in the country from different regions of the world. Unauthorized persons include those that entered the U.S. illegally or who have overstayed their visas.
In addition, Pew analyzed preliminary data from March 2016 which shows a slight uptick in the illegal immigrant population since 2015, although still off the all-time record high set in 2007.
Research by the non-partisan Washington-based “fact tank” shows that in the year prior to the start of America’s economic recession, 12.2 million unauthorized immigrants were in the U.S. By 2015, the population had declined to 11 million, owing mainly to a 57 percent decrease in illegal Mexican immigrants.
For the first time in over a decade, Mexicans do not make up a majority of the illegal population, comprising only 5.6 million of the estimated 11.3 million unauthorized persons currently in America.
In fact, a November 2015 Pew study showed that more Mexican immigrants previously in the United States have returned to their home country than those who came to America from Mexico in the years 2009–2014, representing a net loss of 140,000.
Negative immigration flows from Mexico are a historically unprecedented population trend in America. Typically, when the U.S. economy recovers from a period of recession, more Mexicans move north of the border.
“Since 2009, though, the number of Mexicans has continued to fall and the unemployment situation in the U.S. has continued to improve,” said Pew study co-author Jeffrey Passel. “So it appears . . . that linkage has broken.”
Illegal immigrants from Asia, Central America, and to a lesser extent Africa, seem to have made up for the decline in undocumented Mexicans since 2009, however. According to Passel, most unauthorized Asians and Central Americans enter the U.S. lawfully but overstay their visas.
Passel also offered a prediction that the Trump administration’s increased border security policies will keep Mexican immigration down for the foreseeable future.
Yet another Pew study released earlier in April also shows that federal enforcement of immigration laws has increased dramatically since the end of former President George W. Bush’s first term in fiscal year 2004, when only 28 percent of all federal arrests were related to immigration. By FY 2014, Bureau of Justice Statistics data showed that number had nearly doubled.
Despite subsequent CBP data which shows that apprehensions at the U.S. border have declined precipitously since the end of 2016, Sean Spicer reemphasized the need to continue the administration’s policy of increased domestic security measures at a White House press briefing Monday.
“Just because you have a couple good months in a year, I think you want to make sure that you take prudent long-term steps,” he said. “Eight years from now, the next president will have that wall in place to make sure that it doesn’t continue.”
[Pew Research Center] [CNNMoney] [Minnesota Public Radio] [RT America] [Photo courtesy Breitbart Texas/Cartel Chronicles]