NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Fewer Illegal Immigrants Entering United States

September 3, 2010

The number of immigrants coming to the United States illegally since 2007 has plummeted -- the first significant decline in two decades, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report out Thursday.  The total number of illegal immigrants in the country is down from a peak of 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2009, says USA Today.

  • The annual inflow of about 300,000 illegal immigrants from 2007 to 2009 was almost two-thirds smaller than it had been from 2000 to 2005, when it reached an average 850,000 a year.
  • One likely reason for the decline is that the recession and housing collapse have dried up job opportunities. 
  • Also, border enforcement is stiffer and more states and local governments are approving measures to crack down on illegal immigrants.

The drop in illegal immigration is most dramatic along the Southeast coast and in the Mountain West, specifically in Florida, Nevada and Virginia.  The combined total of illegal immigrants in Arizona, Colorado and Utah also tumbled. 

  • There were 7.8 million illegal immigrants in the workforce in 2009, the Pew report says.
  • They made up a smaller share of the total labor force: 5.1 percent in 2009 versus 5.5 percent in 2007.
  • The Pew Center estimates mirror those released earlier by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
  • The DHS estimated 10.8 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States in January 2009, compared with a peak of 11.8 million in 2007.

 Source: Haya El Nasser, "Fewer illegal immigrants entering USA," USA Today, September 2, 2010.

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