|U.S. Border Patrol on Mexico border|
According to this newly-released estimate, there were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in March 2011. Interestingly, this number has remained stable for three years. They note, however, that the population of unauthorized immigrants in the country has sharply declined since its peak in 2007 at 12 million.
The estimate for 2011 is not different enough from totals for 2010 (11.2 million) or 2009 (11.1 million) to be statistically important. The decline that followed the 2007 population peak was important, however, because it was the first significant decrease following two decades of growth.
Why the Population Decline?
A decrease in the number of new immigrants from Mexico is the main reason for the population decline since 2007. Mexico is by far the nation in the lead in sending immigrants to the U.S.. Immigration from Mexico to the United States, however, has stopped and possibly even reversed through 2010.
When U.S. immigration from Mexico was at its peak in 2000, about 770,000 immigrants arrived from that nation annually. The majority of those immigrants arrived illegally. By 2010, the inflow had dropped to about 140,000, and, according to Pew Hispanic Center estimates, a majority of these new arrivals entered as legal or authorized immigrants.
Another important factor in the population equation is the number of Mexicans and their children who moved from the U.S. to Mexico between 2005 and 2010. That number roughly doubled from the number who had done so in the five-year period a decade before.
In early 2013, the Pew Hispanic Center plans to release an estimate of the 2012 U.S. unauthorized immigrant population.