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Study: Number of Illegal Immigrants in the U.S. Is Down

The Obama administration has said its immigration policies are working to keep out illegal immigrants, and a study released by the Pew Hispanic Center today confirms that illegal immigration is down. The study found about 11.1 million illegal immigrants were in the country in March 2009, down from a peak of 12 million in March 2007. The decrease could have been driven by immigration policy, coupled with a sluggish economy, the report says.

“Unemployment is very high in the U.S., and it’s harder and more dangerous for undocumented immigrants to get into the country,” study co-author Jeffrey Passel said on a conference call. “Both of those broad factors seem to be working in the same direction.”

The number of immigrants entering the country illegally has decreased substantially since the first half of the decade, when an average of about 850,000 new unauthorized immigrants entered each year. Between March 2007 and March 2009, the average annual inflow dropped to about 300,000 per year, the study found.

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The most marked change was among immigrants from Latin American countries other than Mexico, according to the study. From 2007 to 2009, illegal immigration from the Caribbean, Central America and South America decreased 22 percent. Overall, most immigrants are from Mexico: Mexicans made up about 60 percent of illegal immigrants in 2009.

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