U.S. Illegal Immigration Increasing

Posted By Urban News Hour | September 23, 2013

The number of immigrants crossing into the U.S. illegally appears to be rising again after a big drop during the recession.

About 11.7 million undocumented immigrants were in the U.S. last year, up from 11.5 million in 2011, according to estimates released by Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project on Monday.

 The increase is within the researchers’ margin of error, but Pew said the country’s recession-era decrease in illegal immigration — including visa overstays and border crossings — has bottomed out. Illegal immigration peaked at 12.2 million in 2007 and dropped to 11.3 million in 2009, Pew researchers said.

“Whether this is an indication that the economy’s improving enough to attract new unauthorized immigrants is hard to say,” said Jeffrey Passel, Pew Research Center senior demographer. 

“But the leveling off of the unauthorized population and the unauthorized Mexican population suggests that the people who wanted to leave have already left.”

In New York State, the number of undocumented immigrants is still much lower – 875,000 in 2012 – than the pre-recession high of 1 million in 2007, Pew said.

Seven percent of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. live in the Empire State, the study found.

Among the six states with the largest number of undocumented immigrants, only Texas has not seen a decrease since the recession.

The number of Mexicans living in the U.S. illegally peaked at about 6.9 million before the recession began in 2007, the dropped to 6 million and has remained at that level since. Illegal immigration from countries other than Mexico rose last year to 5.65 million, which may be a record, researchers said.

Pew researchers derived their estimates from Census Bureau sample surveys and federal immigration records.

Legal immigration across the U.S. has been steadily increasing over the past decade, even through the recession, researchers say.

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