U.S. illegal immigrant tally drops by 1 million on poor economy

February 12, 2010

The number of illegal immigrants living and working in the shadows in the United States dropped to 10.8 million in January last year, from a high of 11.8 million two years earlier, as the U.S. economy faltered, according to a U.S. government report.


The study by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which was released earlier this month, found that the “number of unauthorized residents declined by 1.0 million between 2007 and 2009, coincident with the U.S. economic downturn.”

The report, which drew on DHS and Census Bureau figures, found that unauthorized immigrants from Mexico accounted for 6.7 million of the total, followed by 530,000 migrants from El Salvador, 480,000 from Guatemala and 320,000 from Honduras.

Illegal immigration is a divisive issue in the United States, where Hispanics are also the largest legal immigrant group and are an increasingly weighty voting bloc.

President Barack Obama, who was backed overwhelmingly by Hispanics in his election in 2008, supports an overhaul of immigration laws that would legalize millions of undocumented immigrants in good standing, while cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers as well as hardening the porous border with Mexico.

Congressional Democrats introduced a bill seeking comprehensive reform late last year, although analysts say a crowded agenda and a struggling economy may sink hopes for an overhaul in 2010. Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush tried and failed to get reforms passed.

The period of decline coincides with a build up in policing efforts on the nearly 2,000-mile (3,200 km) Mexico border, although the study made no reference to any impact of the additional Border Patrol agents, infrastructure and fencing on the fall-off.

Photo credit REUTERS/Tomas Bravo (residents wait to board bus to Los Angeles from Jalpa, Mexico. Jan. 15, 2009)

For more Reuters political news, click here


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Living and working in the shadows? Hardly. With all the liberals and activists supporting illegal immigration these days there is no reason to remain in the shadows. Anyone who opposes illegal immigration gets call a racist. Politicians will not dare commit political suicide by going against an “increasingly weighty voting bloc”. The problem will not be sovled. At best if Obama gets his way he will grant amnesty to the illegals here already and the cycle will start all over again.

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

Funny. They do all the jobs we feel are beneath us. They are taken advantage of by the rest of the economy because they can’t fight back. Most are here just to make a living and help their families. Our whole economy would stop if they decided to stop working for a week. And, we villify them. So, silly. The ones that have been here a long time, have even paid their taxes, and just want to live. Why not let them?

Posted by BKohl | Report as abusive

I would not do those jobs. Why? because the pay is too low. Illegals are keeping the minimum wage low , which hurts all wages. Do jobsite enforcement and put Americans back to work! The laws are already there, just not being enforced.A $10,000 fine will make employing illegals less profitable and that law is already on the books!

Posted by Potatoe1 | Report as abusive

To: iflydaplanes
Obviously you are a racist, but that does not solve the problem. Why not suggest a solution to the question instead of bring up race?? And if they are here illegally how is it that they vote. As usual a Republican without a clue as to the laws in America. Guessing you live in the South and drive a big SUV. Enjoy

Posted by luminator | Report as abusive

The actual tally is at least twice the endlessly reported figure.

There were 10 million illegal immigrants in the US in 1980, according to that year’s edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, with at least half a million arriving each year. Do the arithmetic — that makes at least 25 million of them in the US right now.

As far as “racism” goes, direct any inquiries to the current Labour government in Britain, who it appears intentionally flooded their nation with immigrants (both legal and illegal) to swell their voters’ rolls. A deliberate policy, and treasonous to boot. Why would the US be any different?

Posted by Mega | Report as abusive

I do not drive an SUV, I am not a republican, and I do not live down south. You know what happens when you assume right?

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

Why would anyone believe a US government report….they lie to us every day!

Posted by Steveco1 | Report as abusive