The number of illegal immigrants in the United States is at its lowest level in ten years, according to the Pew Research Center.
Pew credits this decade low to a sharp decrease in the number of Mexicans entering the country illegally, according to their estimates based on government data from 2016.
According to the data compiled by Pew, there were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2016 — the lowest level that the illegal immigrant population has been since 2004. That total is down from the 12.2 million peak in 2007.
Between 2007 and 2016, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States shrunk by 13 percent, while the number of legal immigrants grew by 22 percent during that same time period.
Mexican nationals are by far the largest contributor to the unauthorized immigration problem in the U.S., with roughly 5.4 million illegal immigrants being of Mexican origin.
“The declining overall number of unauthorized immigrants is due mainly to a very large drop in the number of new unauthorized immigrants, especially Mexicans, coming into the country,” Pew reported.
“Consequently, today’s unauthorized immigrant population includes a smaller share of recent arrivals, especially from Mexico, than a decade earlier.”
The new report also shows that it is becoming more likely that illegal immigrants will stay long-term in the U.S. and about two-thirds “have lived in the country for more than 10 years.”
Illegal immigration has declined from South America, Canada, and Europe also, though by a smaller percentage than from Mexico.
Pew’s director of global migration and demography research, Mark Hugo Lopez, told USA Today that the U.S. government’s expanding security along the southwestern border has deterred many immigrants from trying to cross it illegally.
However, along with the shrinking illegal immigration, another number is growing: the percentage of illegal immigrant adults who live in a household with U.S. born children.
In 2007, 32 percent of illegal immigrant adults lived with children who were U.S. citizens, and in 2016 that number rose to 43 percent, according to Pew.
“The population has become more settled,” Lopez said. “They’ve had children in the U.S., have formed family relationships.”
The number of illegal immigrants from Central America, however, has increased by 375,000 over the period of 2007-2016.
Pew estimated that there were roughly 1.85 million illegal immigrants from Central America in the United States.
These immigrants primarily came from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras where illegal immigration to the U.S. is on the rise.
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