With the recent push by Senate lawmakers and the White House for immigration reform, one number is being tossed around a lot. It has been estimated that there are about 11 million illegal residents in the United States. Where does that number come from and who exactly are these people?
These questions were highlighted in a recent National Journal article by Brian Resnick, which describes the work of Pew Hispanic Center demographer Jeffrey Passel, whose estimates of the illegal immigrant population have become widely used in the media. The illegal immigrant population cannot be directly measured by any of the major national surveys. Unsurprisingly, response rates for voluntary, and even legally-required, surveys are particularly low for the illegal population. Instead, Passel and the Pew Hispanic Center rely on a methodology that indirectly measures this group of people. Here’s how it works:
The Pew Hispanic Center recently released a report about Mexican immigration to the United States. The report showed that net migration from Mexico has fallen to zero. Here are some interesting facts that the researchers found using demographic data from both the United States and Mexico:
- In the last four decades, millions of Mexicans migrated to the United States. The number of Mexican immigrants currently living in the U.S. – 12 million – is larger than the total number of immigrants living in any other country (from any sending country).
- Almost 1/3 (30%) of all current U.S. immigrants were born in Mexico. The next largest sending country, China, accounts for 5% of all immigrants living in the U.S.
- The downward trend in net migration from Mexico began around 2007. The current standstill in net migration appears to be the result of several factors, including the U.S. economic recession, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers of illegal boarder crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates, and the economic conditions in Mexico. It is unclear whether immigration patterns of Mexicans will return to previous levels as the U.S. economy recovers, or if the other factors will keep the numbers of Mexican immigrants down.
You can read the full report here: Net Migration from Mexico Falls to Zero – and Perhaps Less.