America’s illegal immigrant population leveled off last year, ending a two-year decline most likely precipitated by America’s terrible recession.
As of March 2010, there were about 11.2 million illegal immigrants living and working in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center. That number is almost identical to the number a year earlier. In 2007, there were an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in America, a record high for the nation.
“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," said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center. "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."
Separately, there were 8 million unauthorized immigrants in the workforce in March 2010, down slightly from 2007, when there were 8.4 million.
As you might imagine, some of the states that saw their immigrant populations drop most significantly were those that made a point of enhancing immigration crackdowns by law enforcement, specifically Arizona and Virginia. Others included Nevada, Utah, Florida, Colorado and New York.
Currently Republicans and Democrats can’t come to an agreement about how to handle America’s illegal immigration problem, with President Obama supporting a path-to-citizenship program and the GOP favoring stricter enforcement measures, like a wall at the U.S.–Mexico border.
Whatever the plan, Americans and illegal immigrants themselves are desperate for some progress on a federal immigration bill. Since a major bill was scrapped in a gridlocked Congress last year, states have taken to creating their own, harsher bills.
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