Illegal Immigration Drops in Recession

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Congratulations America, the illegal immigration crisis in this country may be ending.  Unfortunately, it’s not because of any immigration policy, but instead seems to be due to our lousy economy.

According to a new study from The Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization, the number of illegal immigrants in this country dropped steadily in the second half of past decade, with a particularly steep decline during the recession.

Between 2000 and 2005, an average of 850,000 unauthorized immigrants entered the country each year. However, that number began to drop during the next two years, with 550,000 new illegal immigrants moving here each year between 2005 and 2007. Now, Pew Reports that the number declined by nearly half during the recession years, with 300,000 moving here annually between 2007 and 2009.

This data is largely based on Census number. While the researchers do not offer concrete evidence one way or the other about the relationship between this decline and the economic downturn, they suggest that it is most likely connected.

“The U.S. economy entered a recession late in 2007, at a time when border enforcement was increasing. Economic and demographic conditions in sending countries and strategies employed by potential migrants also change,” Pew reports. “All of these undoubtedly contribute to the overall magnitude of immigration flows.”

Much of this is change is due to a 22% decrease in the number of unauthorized immigrants moving here from Latin America between 2007 and 2009. On the other hand, the number of immigrants coming here illegally from Mexico hit a peak of about 7 million in 2007 and has since leveled off.

Interestingly, the study points out that Arizona, which has been at the center of a nationwide debate on how to fight illegal immigration, did see its immigration population rise for much of the past two decades. However, the total number of illegal immigrants moving to Arizona, Colorado and Utah declined by 130,000 during the past year in particular.

Despite these declines, Pew points out that there were still 11.1 million illegal immigrants living in this country as of last year, nearly a third more than the 8.4 million living here in 2000.

Apparently if we want the number of illegal immigrants in this country to decline further, all we need is a double-dip recession.

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