While Donald Trump's recent position paper on immigration
dominates headlines, a new study of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S.
digs into the latest numbers.
The Washington, D.C.-based
Migration Policy Institute released "An Analysis of Unauthorized
Immigrants in the United States by Country and Region of Birth." It's
based on U.S. Census Bureau data.
Some of the findings may not
surprise you. Mexicans represent 6 million of the estimated 11 million
unauthorized immigrants in this country, making up 56 percent of the
total. An additional 1.6 million, or 15 percent, come from Central
America. Asia (China, India, Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam and
Pakistan) accounts for 1.5 million, or 14 percent, of the unauthorized
The report finds that this population doubled in
the 1990s from 3.5 million to 7 million and it kept growing through the
2000s, peaking at about 12.2 million people in 2007. But illegal
immigration has been declining since then. Researchers say there are
about 1 million fewer unauthorized residents today than eight years ago,
mostly among Mexicans.
"The outflow of unauthorized Mexicans
since 2007 appears to be a function of the U.S. economic downturn,
tougher U.S. immigration enforcement, especially at the border, a
relatively strong Mexican economy during most of this period, and
demographic changes resulting in fewer Mexicans entering the labor
market," says Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of the institute's U.S.
Immigration Policy Program.
At the same time, there's been "a
broader trend toward greater diversity in the overall U.S. foreign-born
population," according to the report. The number of Central Americans
and Asians tripled between 2000 and 2013, while the number of Africans
doubled. Another unauthorized population growing at the fastest
proportional rate of any national-origin group since 2000 is Indians.
report also looks at the Obama administration's controversial program
for children who were brought to the U.S. illegally. It's called
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. About 1.2 million
minors are immediately eligible for the program that grants them a work
permit and relief from deportation. About 750,000 minors already have
applied. The vast majority are from Mexico and Central America.
Rosenblum offers two more conclusions based on the data that are
probably relevant to today's debate on illegal immigration. Southwestern
border apprehensions have fallen 80 percent since 2000. In Rosenblum's
view, "the U.S.-Mexico border is more secure than it's been in 40
And what about the concern that a potential terrorist
could enter the U.S. by illegally crossing the border? Rosenblum says
there are a significant number of unauthorized Asian immigrants
apprehended at the border.
But most security experts doubt that
illegally crossing the border is a good way for a terrorist to enter
the country. After all, "there's a high probability of being apprehended
at the border," says Rosenblum. "About half of all border crossers are
apprehended at least once."
"We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."