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Number of undocumented immigrants in US has fallen in the last 10 years

Posted at 2:29 PM, Apr 25, 2017

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States has steadily declined over the past 10 years, amid a significant decrease in the share of Mexicans living in the country without legal status, a new report finds.

The Pew Research Center estimates that 11 million undocumented immigrants lived in the U.S. in 2016, down from a peak of 12.2 million during the recession in 2007. The current estimate is also down slightly from 11.3 million in 2009.

Most notably, Pew reported that the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico has been shrinking.

According to preliminary estimates for 2016, Pew said the number of Mexican immigrants without legal status who were living in the U.S. in 2016 fell to 5.6 million, down from a peak of 6.9 million in 2007.

Pew said Mexicans represented an estimated 50% of the total undocumented immigrant population in 2016, marking the first time since 2005 that this group did not represent a majority.

While the share of undocumented Mexicans has been on the decline, there have been a growing number of immigrants coming from other parts of the world, namely Central America and Asia, Pew found.




In 2015, there were 1.8 million undocumented immigrants from Central America and 1.5 million from Asia, Pew reported. Both of those numbers had increased by roughly 200,000 since 2009.

Pew defines an unauthorized immigrant as an individual who enters the country without legal permission or who overstays their visa.

The majority of people apprehended at the border are Mexicans and Central Americans, said Jeffrey Passel, one of the authors of the Pew report. He said immigrants from Asia, South America, Africa and other regions of the world tend to enter the U.S. with a valid visa and the stay past the visa's expiration.

Pew's estimates are based on Census Bureau data from March 2016. It noted that the figures do not take into account the impact of any policy changes that have been put in place by President Trump, which include a crackdown on undocumented immigrants and tighter security at the border.




According to recent statistics released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the number of apprehensions at the Southwest border fell in January, February and March after ticking upward last spring and fall.

Pew also noted that while the number of undocumented immigrants living in the country has declined, the current number is still nearly triple what it was in 1990, when 3.5 million undocumented immigrants were estimated to be living in the U.S.

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