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Entries in Pew Hispanic Center (1)

Tuesday
Feb012011

Decline in US Illegal Immigrant Population Stalls, Study Finds

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. has steadily declined over the past three years, as a weakened economy and tougher enforcement of immigration laws deterred some would-be migrants and spurred others to return home.

But that trend has come to an end, at least temporarily, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center.

There were an estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. in March, 2010, the Pew report finds, a number statistically unchanged from the year before.

"The U.S. economy is still doing better than the Mexican economy, and the figures suggest these immigrants are finding enough here to hang on," said Pew demographer Jeffrey Passel. "The downward trend may have lost steam. They've invested a lot of effort and money to get to the U.S. and this suggests they aren't going to leave easily."

The study found that the number of children born to one or more illegal immigrants on U.S. soil also held steady last year. The children have been at the center of the recent debate over birthright citizenship and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, to which several GOP lawmakers have proposed a change. Roughly 350,000 newborns, or eight percent of all births in 2010, had at least one parent who was not in the U.S. legally. The total number of children born to undocumented immigrant parents and living in the U.S. as of March 2010 was 4.5 million, according to the Pew study.

The report also notes that the geographic distribution of the nation's illegal immigrant population is changing. Four states -- Florida, New York, Virginia and Colorado -- experienced continued decline in their illegal immigrant populations through 2010. Arizona, Nevada and Utah, combined, also saw a statistically significant decrease, the report found. Three south-central states -- Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas -- saw a net influx in illegal immigrants in 2010, however. An estimated 1.55 million illegal immigrants lived in that tri-state region in 2007; the number grew to 1.8 million in 2010.

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