Slight decline in unauthorized immigrants in US

Mexico continues to be the leading source of unauthorized immigration 3rd March 2009: The number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States declined from 11.8 million in January 2007 to 11.6 million in January 2008, a new report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics shows.

This is the first time since 2005 that the country has recorded a decline in the number of unauthorized immigrants.

DHS estimates that the unauthorized immigrant population in the US numbered 11.3 million in January 2006, 10.5 million in January 2005, and 8.5 million in 2000.

The same report shows that from 2000 to 2008, the unauthorized immigrant population increased by 37 percent. The annual average net increase in the unauthorized population from 2000 to 2008 was 390,000.

The decrease in the size of the unauthorized population between 2007 and 2008 may be due to sampling error in the estimate of the foreign-born population in the 2007 American Community Survey (ACS).

Nonsampling errors, especially in the estimates of undercount of the foreign-born population in the ACS and emigration of legally resident immigrants, may also have had a sizable impact on the estimates.

However, the estimates show that the unauthorized population was increasing from 2000 until 2007. The trends reported by DHS are consistent with estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center showing 11.9 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States in March 2008, 12.4 million in March 2007, 11.5 million in March 2006, and 11.1 million in March 2005.

Just over 4.3 million (37 percent) of unauthorized immigrants in 2008 had entered the United States since January 1, 2000. An estimated 1.1 million (9 percent) came to the United States between 2005 and 2007 while 3.3 million (28 percent) came during 2000 to 2004. Forty-four percent came to live in the United States during the 1990s, and 19 percent entered during the 1980s.

An estimated 8.8 million of the total 11.6 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States in 2008 were from the North America region, including Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.

The next leading regions of origin were Asia (1.2 million) and South America (850,000). Mexico continued to be the leading source of unauthorized immigration to the United States. The estimated unauthorized immigrant population from Mexico increased from 4.7 million in 2000 to 7.0 million or 61 percent of the total unauthorized in January 2008. The annual average increase in Mexican unauthorized immigration to the United States was 290,000 during the 2000-2008 period.

The next leading source countries for unauthorized immigrants in 2008 were El Salvador (570,000), Guatemala (430,000), the Philippines (300,000) and Honduras (300,000).

The ten leading countries of origin represented 83 percent of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2008. Although immigration from Mexico continues to dominate unauthorized population growth, the greatest percentage increases during 2000-2008 were among immigrants from Honduras (81 percent) and Brazil (72 percent).

California remained the leading state of residence of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2008, with 2.9 million. The next leading state, Texas, had 1.7 million unauthorized residents, followed by Florida with 840,000 and New York with 640,000. California’s share of the national total declined from 30 percent in 2000 to 25 percent in 2008. The greatest percentage increases in the unauthorized population between 2000 and 2008 occurred in Georgia (105 percent), Arizona (70 percent), and Nevada (70 percent).

Males represented 57 percent of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2008. Males accounted for 62 percent of the unauthorized population in the 18 to 34 age group in 2008 while females accounted for 52 percent of the 45 and older age groups.

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