DALLAS — Mexican immigrants no longer make up a majority of the United States’ unauthorized immigrant population, according to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center.
It’s the first time that’s happened since 1965.
The analysis released Wednesday found that as of 2017, Mexicans make up less than half of all unauthorized immigrants and the overall unauthorized population continues to decrease:
About 47% of unauthorized immigrants are Mexican.
The unauthorized population now stands at around 10.5 million, down from a high of 12.2 million in 2007.
Mexicans make up about 4.9 million of that total and other nationalities make up 5.5 million.
It’s yet another sign that the great Mexican migration has ended, due in large part to an improving Mexican economy and many Mexicans simply wanting to return home.
The Pew Research Center estimates that close to 16.3 million Mexicans moved to the U.S. between 1965 and 2015. That wave of migration has helped steady Texas’ growth rate enough to replenish the workforce.
Most immigrants coming to the U.S. now are largely coming from Asia and Central America.
“The decline in unauthorized immigrants from Mexico and rise from other parts of the world is one sign of a change in how recent arrivals to this population enter the country,” the researchers wrote. “A growing share of U.S. unauthorized immigrants do not cross the border illegally, but probably arrive with legal visas and overstay their required departure date.”
Even with the recent surge of families from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala seeking asylum at the southwest border, apprehensions remain far below the peak number of about 1.6 million in 2000.
Unauthorized migration was then still largely driven by Mexican nationals coming to the U.S. In 2000, about 1.6 million Mexicans were apprehended at the border. In 2018, that number fell to 152,257.
“The decline in unauthorized immigrants over the decade is largely due to decreases in new arrivals to the U.S., especially by Mexicans,” the researchers note. “As a result, the unauthorized immigrant population in the U.S. increasingly is made up of longer-term residents.”
Still, there are long-term implications for the remaining unauthorized population, as most have lived in the U.S. long enough to start families and develop deep roots:
About 66% have been here for more than 10 years.
About 20% have lived in the U.S. for five years or less.
The analysis also found there were fewer unauthorized workers in the U.S. workforce in 2017 than in 2007.
Five U.S. states that have long been major immigrant destinations have seen six-figure declines in their unauthorized populations between 2007 and 2017, according to Pew. Texas’ unauthorized population — about 1.6 million — stayed about the same:
California — 775,000
New York — 375,000
Arizona — 220,000
Florida — 210,000
New Jersey — 110,000
The Pew Research Center’s estimate of the unauthorized population is based on overall U.S. Census Bureau’s overall count of immigrants subtracted by the number of lawful immigrants.
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