Immigration, both legal and illegal, peaked in 2007. Pew Research reported that in that year, the U.S. resident population included:
- 5.9 million legal immigrants from Mexico
- 6.9 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico.
- 5.3 million unauthorized immigrants from other countries.
By 2014, the figures were:
- 6.1 million legal immigrants from Mexico
- 5.6 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico
- 5.7 million unauthorized immigrants from other countries.
Overall, according to Pew, there are just under 59 million foreign-born residents and citizens of the United States, comprising a near-record 14 percent of the population.
Pew Research said one reason for the net out-migration of Mexicans is that the U.S. economy is less of a magnet than it once was. Increasing numbers of Mexicans tell pollsters that they are just as well off staying in Mexico as they would be going to the United States.
Another factor is increased immigration enforcement. Even though the number of unauthorized immigrants being stopped at the border is down, the number of deportations is up.
There are still 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the USA, and even if the unauthorized immigrant population continues to shrink at the rate it did from 2007 to 2014, it would still take more than 87 years before they were all gone.
As I’ve written before, I’m of two minds as to what to do about this. I don’t think immigrants who break the rules should get a place in line ahead of those who obey the rules. At the same time, I can’t much blame people for breaking rules to better their lives and the lives of their families.
My bottom line is that it is better to offer a path to citizenship, as President Obama proposes, than to have an exploitable underclass in the United States outside the protection of U.S. law.
More Mexicans Are Leaving Than Coming to the U.S. by Ana Gonzalez-Barrera for Pew Research.
5 facts about illegal immigration in the U. S. by Jens Manuel Krogstad and Jeffrey S. Passel for Pew Research.
Modern Immigration Wave Brings 59 Million to U.S. by Pew Research.