After several years of waning immigration to this country, new research shows that these numbers may be on the upswing. A report issued Monday by the Pew Hispanic Center reveals the first increase in the U.S. undocumented population since the onset of the economic recession five years ago.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States was at its highest in 2007, immediately preceding the Great Recession. At this time, there were an estimated 12.2. million undocumented immigrants in the country. This number dipped to 11.3 million by 2009. New research shows that as of 2012, there were 11.7 million undocumented U.S. residents. This is the first recorded increase of this population in five years.
The report reveals that 60 percent of all undocumented immigrants in this country live in six states: California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. The majority of these individuals (6 million) are originally from Mexico, although this number is down significantly from its 2007 peak, when 6.9 million undocumented Mexican immigrants resided north of the border. The number of non-Mexican immigrants, on the other hand, is steadily increasing, up 400,000 from 2007. Today, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 28 percent of all U.S. immigrants are undocumented, down from 30 percent in 2007.
Although these latest statistics do not specifically identify the shift in Arizona’s undocumented immigrant population, recent research has pointed to the state as experiencing one of the most significant declines in immigration of any state. In 2011, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that Arizona, Utah and Nevada had collectively experienced a drop in their undocumented populations of 160,000 individuals over just four years. It is unlikely that Arizona could have yet rebounded to this peak level of immigration.
Although the Pew Hispanic Center does not point to any single factor in compelling the overall rebound in the U.S. undocumented immigrant population, some experts have tied these shifts to waxing and waning economic opportunities. As the U.S. economy continues to improve, it is likely to draw more individuals to the country, both legally and illegally. However, pending efforts to increase security along the Mexico-U.S. border, combined with the inability of the federal government to pass immigration reform legislation will likely keep many potential immigrants away.