A new study has found that the number of immigrants in the United States without proper documents or legal status has declined to its lowest level in more than a decade.
The study published by the Pew Research Center has found that the number of undocumented immigrants in the US has reached 10.7 million in 2016, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. The total is the lowest since 2004. The drop in numbers is almost entirely attributable to a sharp decline in the number of Mexicans entering the country without legal authorization.
As the numbers are based on 2016 population data, the decline in the number of unauthorized immigrants cannot be attributed to the immigration policies announced by President Donald Trump, who took office in January 2017.
Researchers believe one of the reasons for the decline was the Great Economic Recession that plagued the United States in 2007. Furthermore, the slow recovery that followed also resulted in limited work opportunities for migrants. During the same time, the Mexican economy steadily improved, giving Mexicans more reasons to stay in their country.
“The combination of economic forces and enforcement priorities may be working together to discourage people from arriving, or sending them home,” said D’Vera Cohn, one of the authors of the Pew Research Center report.
The study found about 375,000 more people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras entered the USA without legal permission between 2007 and 2016. The share of undocumented immigrants from Central America increased from 12 percent in 2007 to 17 percent in 2016.
The total number of people originally from South America, Europe and Canada who came to the U.S. illegally dropped while those from the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East and Africa remained steady. With more than 5 million, Mexico remains the country with the largest number of undocumented immigrants in U.S.