Despite Fear Mongering, Number of Undocumented Immigrants in US Hit a New Low After Years of Decline

Migrants at U.S. border
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has cried that Democrats have pushed for “open borders” which led to an “invasion” of immigrants illegally entering the United States. In reality, the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States is on the decline. According to a new study from Pew Research, the population of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. reached its peak in 2007. It’s been falling ever since, and research shows it hit its lowest point in a decade.

The decline happened almost entirely under the Obama administration. The most recent numbers available from the study are from 2016 so it is unclear whether or not the trend has continued under Trump.

The main reason the numbers are in decline is because the numbers of undocumented immigrants originating from Mexico are on the decline.

In addition, the majority of undocumented immigrants living in the United States aren’t new — 66 percent of them have been living here for more than a decade.

The only region of origin that has increased since 2007 is Central America. More migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and Ecuador are living in the United States unauthorized, either by crossing the border illegally or overstaying their visas.

Despite Trump claiming these immigrants are taking American jobs, the percent of undocumented immigrants in the workforce has also hit a new low at 4.8 percent in 2016.

States are noticing a difference. Every U.S. border state except Texas has a dramatic decrease of undocumented immigrant residents. Texas has stayed stagnant.
Map showing that unauthorized immigrant populations changed in 15 states over the past decade.
As pointed out by NPR, Pew’s study varies from others. A Yale University report published in  September estimated almost twice the amount of undocumented immigrants were living in the U.S. than Pew suggests. However, Pew’s finding line up generally with those of the Department of Homeland Security and some non-government groups.

Despite the numbers, Republican lawmakers and the president are focusing on something more tangible — the migrant caravan that has now reached the U.S-Mexico border. Many of the migrants are planning on applying for asylum, but clashes at the border this week gave fuel to the fire of the threat of illegal immigration.

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