5 Observations About Undocumented Immigration

Decrease in number of immigrantsAs the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States has stabilized in the last few years, the Pew Research Center explores some of the trends related to the settlement and influences of some 11.3 million people who make up the demographic. If President Obama’s November 2014 executive action for expanded deportation relief is successful in the courts, the immigrants’ impact on U.S. culture and local societies will likely grow.

Updating research originally published last year, Pew makes five observations about the unauthorized immigration population in the U.S.:

  1. The number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. has essentially remained stable over the last five years at 11.3 million. This amounts to 3.5 percent of the nation’s total population. This compares to a peak of 12.2 million unauthorized immigrants in 2007 when the group comprised 4 percent of the population.
  2. Although their numbers have been in decline over recent years, Mexicans make up almost half of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. at 49 percent. In 2014, 5.6 million undocumented Mexican immigrants were living in the United States, down from 6.4 million in 2009, according to Pew Center estimates.
  3. The undocumented immigrant population is concentrated in six states. California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois account for 60 percent of the population in the country. Pew reports that from 2009 through 2012, several East Coast states saw increases in the population segment, while several Western states saw decreases.  
  4. Approximately 5.1 percent of the U.S. labor force is comprised of undocumented immigrants. Pew reports 8.1 million undocumented immigrants were either working or looking for work in 2012. Nevada (10 percent), California (9 percent) and Texas (9 percent) and New Jersey (8 percent) were the states with the highest rates of undocumented workers.
  5. As of 2012, around 7 percent of K-12 students had at least one undocumented parent. Of these children, almost 80 percent were born in the United States. The state of Nevada accounted for the highest percentage of children in this category with nearly 20 percent of children having at least one undocumented parent. California, Texas and Arizona followed.

Pew reports that President Obama’s executive action is the most significant deportation protection since 1986 when Congress allowed 2.7 million immigrants to obtain green cards.