Illegal Immigrant Population Shrinking
Pew study finds dramatic drop
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2010 3:38 AM CDT
Updated Sep 2, 2010 7:50 AM CDT
"The intensity of US border enforcement has continued to increase during the recession, but only gradually," a researcher said. "What has changed drastically is the demand for Mexican labor."   (AP Photo/Matt York)
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(Newser) – The number of illegal immigrants living in America shrunk last year for the first time in 20 years, according to a Pew Research Center report. The report estimates that the number of illegal immigrants fell by roughly a million to 11 million after peaking at 12 million in 2007, the Wall Street Journal reports. The decline, the report found, was partly due to tougher border security, but can mostly be attributed to the bleak job market in the US.

The number of illegal immigrants entering the country plunged to roughly 300,000 a year from an estimated 850,000 per year from 2000 to 2005. Mexicans, in particular—who make up some 7 million of the illegal immigrant population—have been moving to the US in much smaller numbers, although the ones already in America have been less likely to leave than illegal immigrants from the Caribbean or elsewhere in Latin America. "They are settled here,” an economist tells the New York Times. “It is going to take more than a business cycle for them to move back to Mexico.”