Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Report: Undocumented numbers lowest since 2003; border security key in Republican debates

The number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. continues to decline, says a report by the Center for Migration Studies, Jerry Markon reports for The Washington Post. Numbers have fallen each year since 2008, going under 11 million—10.9 million—for the first time since 2003. The main reason for the decline is fewer illegal immigrants' entering the U.S. from Mexico, South America and Europe, despite rising numbers from Central America.

"A key—but largely overlooked—sign of these ebbing flows is the changing makeup of the undocumented population," Markon writes. "Until recent years, illegal immigrants tended to be young men streaming across the Southern border in pursuit of work. But demographic data show that the typical illegal immigrant now is much more likely someone who is 35 or older and has lived in the United States for a decade or more."

Immigration has been one of the main focuses of the presidential debate, with Republicans calling for stricter border security and Democrats saying the border has never been more secure, Markon writes. "While it doesn’t take a political position or name a party, the paper uses 2014 Census Bureau data to essentially argue that the Republican portrayal is inaccurate." The report states: “One reason for the high and sustained level of interest in undocumented immigration is the widespread belief that the trend in the undocumented population is ever upward. This paper shows that this belief is mistaken and that, in fact, the undocumented population has been decreasing for more than a half a decade.”

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