US Illegal Immigration Plunges
For the first time in years, legal immigrants outnumber incoming illegals
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2008 3:00 AM CDT
A US Border Patrol agentchecks an irrigation ditch near Fabens, Texas. The ditch is used by illegal immigrants to hide as they enter the US.   (AP Photo/ Victor Calzada)
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(Newser) – The number of illegal immigrants entering the US has plummeted in the last several years, a new study has found. Close to 800,000 illegal immigrants entered the US each year from 2000-2004, but 500,000 have entered each year since, reports the Washington Post. For the first time in a decade the number of legal immigrants entering the US has surpassed the illegals coming into the country.

There are an estimated 11.9 million illegal immigrants currently living in the US. The slowdown is attributed to the cooling of the US economy, which may have a disproportionate impact on undocumented workers. "This was a population that was growing very rapidly and substantially for at least 15 years, and the growth has essentially come to a halt," said the co-author of the study.