Friday, April 19, 2024

Number of Illegal Immigrants in the U.S. has dropped since 2007

A report released this week by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security finds that the overall number of illegal immigrants in the United States has dropped in the last two years.  The report, which indicates the illegal immigrant population shrank by 1 million, has spurred discussions about the causes and ways of dealing with undocumented communities.

A spokesman at the Department of Homeland Security attributed the decline – from 11.6 million in 2008 to 10.8 million in 2009 – to the weakening economic conditions in the U.S. as well as to the deployment of “unprecedented resources” to curtail the influx of undocumented immigrants.  According to census data from the U.S. and Mexico, for example, fewer immigrants left the latter during this period, while more immigrants living in the U.S. returned to their country of origin.  Additionally, the U.S. government stepped up deportations, from 291,060 in 2007 to 387,790 in 2009.

Some advocates for stricter immigration rules have hailed the findings as evidence of the effectiveness of policies that restrict access to work. “This represents a sharp break from the past, when pretty much the illegal population has continually grown,” said Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., research group that favors immigration restrictions. “It shows illegal immigration is not inexorable.”

Immigrant advocates, however, caution that many immigrants who have built their lives in this country will not and cannot simply migrate because of economic constraints. “Millions of people here are good citizens and workers who pay taxes and own homes,” said Father Richard Estrada of Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Los Angeles, a self-declared sanctuary for illegal immigrants. “The reality is that they are not going back.”

LA Times