The U.S. Just Saw The Lowest Number Of Undocumented Immigrants In Over A Decade

Despite current headlines about migrant caravans and an “invasion” of undocumented immigrants, the number of people living in the U.S. illegally fell to its lowest numbers in more than a decade. According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. fell to 10.7 million in 2016 which is down about 1.5 million people in 2007, when an estimated peak of 12.2 undocumented immigrants were living in America.

During the span of nine years from 2007 to 2016, the illegal immigrant population reduced by 13 percent. The lowest number since 2004.

CREDIT: Pew Research Center

The study estimates come from figures published by sources like the Census Bureau, which tracks foreign-born people living in the U.S., along with other demographic data including death rates and legal border admissions. Not only has there been a drop in undocumented people in the U.S., the demographic of undocumented people has changed. Since the findings are based on 2016 populations, the decline in numbers can’t be credited to President Donald Trump, who took office in January 2017, and his immigration policies.

The big decline is due to a sharp decrease in the number of Mexicans entering the country.

CREDIT: Pew Research Center

While they still make up a bulk of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S today, migration out of Mexico has declined considerably. That may be due to a revival in job opportunities and growing economy in Mexico. In a stark contrast, the number of migrants from Central America living in the U.S. without documentation rose between 2007 and 2016, mainly due to increased violence and economic uncertainty. The number of undocumented immigrants from Central America increased by 375,000 between 2007 and 2016, to a total of 1.85 million people, the study shows.

The number of people who came to the U.S. illegally and are from South America, Europe and Canada decreased while those from the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East and Africa rose in steady numbers.

The majority of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. have lived here for a decade or longer.

CREDIT: Pew Research Center

In 2007, the average length of an undocumented immigrant living in the U.S. was 8.6 years; nine years later, it has grown to an average 14.8 years. This shows that the average undocumented person in the U.S. either has been living in the country for quite some time and there are less people coming in during that same span.

D’Vera Cohn, a senior writer at Pew Research, says undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. shows how much more rooted this population is here than before.

“This is a much more rooted, established population than it was in 2007,” Ms. Cohn told the NY Times. “There are markedly fewer short-term residents and more long term residents.”

Programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)  and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) have protected one million undocumented people from deportation.

According to the report, 700,000 people in the U.S. who were brought to the country without documents as children have received protection from deportation through the DACA program. Additionally, 317,000 from 10 nations have received TPS, which applies to those from countries that have experienced natural disasters like Haiti.

The report notes that the The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced plans to end protections for immigrants from six nations that include El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti, which account for the vast majority of the 317,000. Those seeking asylum are also included in the numbers presented by the study.

What does this report mean when it comes to unauthorized immigration in the U.S. as a whole?

CREDIT: Pew Research Center

In what may be a surprise to some, the state of California saw a 550,00 decrease in unauthorized immigrants, the biggest amongst all states. While states like Louisiana, Maryland and Massachusetts saw major increases. When it comes to jobs, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the workforce was 7.8 million, which was lower in 2016 than in 2007 and they made up less than five percent of the workforce, also a drop from 2007 when it was about 5.4 percent.

Overall, the findings in the report show changing immigration trends shifting from countries like Mexico and an increase in those arriving from Central America. Those that have overstayed their visa also appear to make up a significant share of overall illegal immigration. Going forward, it’ll be interesting to see if recent immigration polices have deterred more immigrants from coming to the illegally or if more have left the country all together.

READ: Conditions In Tijuana Are Getting Worse For Those Waiting To Claim Asylum

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