U.S. illegal immigrant population steady

PHOENIX Tue Feb 1, 2011 3:12pm EST

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PHOENIX (Reuters) - The number of illegal immigrants in the United States leveled off at around 11 million last year, ending a two-year slide since the start of the recession, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The study by the Pew Hispanic Center noted 11.2 million illegal immigrants living and working in the shadows in the United States in March 2010, virtually unchanged from a year earlier.

The report, which drew on U.S. Census Bureau data, noted the number of illegal immigrants in the workforce remained steady at around 8 million.

The leveling off last year followed a two-year slide in the population to 11.1 million in 2009 from a peak of 12 million in 2007, at the start of the U.S. recession.

"What we have seen in the past is that the flow of unauthorized immigrants, particularly from Mexico, has been very closely tied to the state of the U.S. economy," senior demographer Jeffrey S. Passel told Reuters.

"We've seen large drops in the inflows when the U.S. went into a recession, and large increases when the U.S. economy was booming," he added.

The issue of what to do with the shadow population divides Americans.

President Barack Obama backs comprehensive immigration reform, tightening enforcement while giving millions of illegal immigrants a shot at legal status, while Republicans generally favor an enforcement-only approach.

Gridlock in Washington has led Republican legislators in a growing number of states to push measures curbing illegal immigration and challenging birthright citizenship for the immigrants' U.S.-born children.

The study found the decline in the number of illegal immigrants has been especially marked in Colorado, Florida, New York and Virginia -- which had previously noted growth in their unauthorized population -- as well as in Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

Passel said factors including a struggling local economy, together with local initiatives to crack down on illegal immigrants, likely contributed to the decline.

"We can point to the economy as perhaps the principal factor ... (although) Arizona and Virginia also passed restrictive legislation to limit undocumented immigration," he said.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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Comments (3)
I believe the number is at least twice that and I’m all for it.
Sterling Greenwood/AspenFreePress

Feb 01, 2011 3:32pm EST  --  Report as abuse
DrJJJJ wrote:
Are you sure 11 million “illegal” folks is accurate?? Did they step up and volunteer to be counted?
Don’t hate Latinos for wanting a better life folks!! Also, most of these folks are hard working, humble and God fearing! But illegal is illegal isn’t it? Would we be allowed to stay in Mexico illegally-10+ million of us? What does Mexico require for citizenship? How many jobs are being displaced and how much tax is going uncollected? What could we have done with the money-who in the US is suffering because of the costs? Who is a priority and considered essential spending? What we do with our money says everything about us as a country!

Feb 01, 2011 4:31pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Syanis wrote:
So what they are saying in the last 3 years while millions of Americans have lost work 8 million illegal aliens jobs have remained secure. This includes illegals moving from a state cracking down on illegal aliens to another state and thus finding a new job to keep the numbers up.

So basically we’re supporting illegal jobs and keeping their jobs safe, I was so worried that American Citizens would put those poor illegals out of a job *obvious sarcasm*.

Also the numbers of illegals in the US doesn’t match up. Saying were under 12 million when that was the number in a 2006 study printed in 2007. However the feds have themselves said from 2007+ we have had 1.4 million illegals enter the US annually yet haven’t said we have more then that leaving every year to not just balance but lower those numbers.

Seems the Pew Hispanic group is just racist pro illegal alien as their agenda rather then Hispanic American Citizens who are legit.

Feb 02, 2011 12:58am EST  --  Report as abuse
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