Illegal Immigrants 8% of US Births, 3.7% of Population
While illegal immigration in the United States remains enormous, it has dropped considerably over the last three years.
Pew‘s annual study of “Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends” found:
As of March 2010, 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States, virtually unchanged from a year earlier, according to new estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. This stability in 2010 follows a two-year decline from the peak of 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2009 that was the first significant reversal in a two-decade pattern of growth. Unauthorized immigrants were 3.7% of the nation’s population in 2010.
The number of unauthorized immigrants in the nation’s workforce, 8 million in March 2010, also did not differ from the Pew Hispanic Center estimate for 2009. As with the population total, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the labor force had decreased in 2009 from its peak of 8.4 million in 2007. They made up 5.2% of the labor force in 2010.
The number of children born to at least one unauthorized-immigrant parent in 2009 was 350,000 and they made up 8% of all U.S. births, essentially the same as a year earlier. An analysis of the year of entry of unauthorized immigrants who became parents in 2009 indicates that 61% arrived in the U.S. before 2004, 30% arrived from 2004 to 2007, and 9% arrived from 2008 to 2010.
Given the sheer size of our country, the numbers are staggering. As to the slight dropoff in recent years, Pew can only guess:
Although the estimates indicate trends in the size and composition of the unauthorized-immigrant population, they are not designed to answer the question of why these changes occurred. There are many possible factors. The deep recession that began in the U.S. economy officially ended in 2009, but recovery has been slow to take hold and unemployment remains high. Immigration flows have tended to decrease in previous periods of economic distress.
The period covered by this analysis also has been accompanied by changes in the level of immigration enforcement and in enforcement strategies, not only by the federal government but also at state and local levels. Immigration also is subject to pressure by demographic and economic conditions in sending countries. This analysis does not attempt to quantify the relative impact of these forces on levels of unauthorized immigration.
My guess is that it’s the downturn in the economy combined with the resultant spike in anti-immigration sentiment. The dangerous and often expensive trek across the border for a better life is now higher risk and lower reward.
As to what to make of the 8% number, I stand by my analysis from last summer, when I first saw this statistic from last year’s study:
- We don’t know how this 8% differs from the 92% born to parents who are both here legally.
- There’s very little, as a practical matter, we can do to prevent illegal immigration across our 3000-mile border with the 3rd World.