Things That Matter

New Research Shows Most Undocumented Immigrants Aren’t Coming From Mexico But Instead Central America

Mexicans no longer make up the overall majority of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, the number of Mexicans leaving the U.S. is more than there are coming here which is a significant change from the early 2000s. These new numbers show the changing landscape of immigration in the U.S. within the last decade where there are fewer immigrants arriving. This trend shows those who have been in the U.S. for longer are now by far the majority of immigrants as a whole.

The immigrant population in the U.S., which has its smallest unauthorized immigrant population in more than a decade, is shifting quickly.

Credit: Pew Research Center

Since 2010, migration from Mexico into the U.S. has been slowly decreasing as data shows more Mexicans have moved south across the border than the north. According to the Pew Research Center, between 2007 and 2017, about two million of the Mexican immigrants who left the U.S. had been living in the country undocumented, 6.9 to 4.9 respectively.

This shift has contributed to an overall decline in the undocumented immigrant population which has gone down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007 to a low of 10.5 million in 2017.

There has also been an uptick in the length of time most undocumented immigrants have been in the county. The typical undocumented immigrant had lived 15 years in the United States in 2017, which is up from seven years in 1995. It’s the highest number of years since Pew started tracking that data.

While the number of immigrants from Mexico has gone down, Central Americans are coming at unprecedented rates.

Credit: Pew Research Center

There’s been a surge of migrants from Central American countries, like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras that have arrived in the U.S. within the last few years. From 1.5 million in 2007 to 1.9 million in 2017, Central Americans represent one of the biggest increases in the overall immigrant population.

Though many Central Americans are crossing the border illegally, they’re requesting asylum, which means a much longer process and stay for many.
Even with the recent surge of families from Central America seeking asylum at the southern border, apprehensions remain far below the peak number of about 1.6 million in 2000.

Research has also found that long term residents outnumber more recent arrivals. Undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. have become more settled into their communities. In 2010, about 50 percent of the nation’s undocumented immigrants had lived in the country for more than 10 years. In 2017, that number rose to 66 percent.

Following Central America, the immigrant population of people from Asia has also risen to 1.4 million. The share of both legal and unauthorized immigrants from Asian nations has also continued to spike.

What do these numbers mean in terms of tracking and foreseeing future immigration trends moving forward?

Credit: Pew Research Center

The latest data is a reflection of the various global and domestic changes that have made noticeable differences in immigration trends. Several factors include the U.S government investing more heavily in border security which had made illegal border crossings harder. In 1994, the U.S. had fewer than 5,000 Border Patrol agents but today that number is nearly 20,000. Stopping the rising inflow of unauthorized immigrants has been one of the key issues for the Trump administration.

The Mexican economy has also improved, resulting in more Mexicans to stay in their country and more Mexicans living in the U.S. to return back. Many of the migration trends that were seen in the last 20 years have changed and Mexicans are one of those changing demographics.

Data shows that the second wave of illegal immigration isn’t coming from those in other countries but rather those already here overstaying visas.
More than 600,000 foreign travelers who legally entered the U.S in 2017 overstayed their visas and remained here by the end of the year, according to recent Department of Homeland Security data.

“The decline in unauthorized immigrants from Mexico and rise from other parts of the world is one sign of a change in how recent arrivals to this population enter the country,” the researchers wrote. “A growing share of U.S. unauthorized immigrants do not cross the border illegally, but probably arrive with legal visas and overstay their required departure date.”

READ: Ahead Of Supreme Court Decision, Census Bureau Quietly Seeks Citizenship Data

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com