Number of undocumented immigrants increases

Estimates based on government data have shown that the population of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. could be on the rise after a four-year lull. Last year saw 11.7 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, a number that has not been seen since 2008. Though not at the 12.2 million high of 2007, the numbers are enough to catch the attention of Americans. Pew Research Center, a non-partisan group, posted its findings this week, leaving many speculating at probable causes of the jump.

Though links cannot be directly made, many attribute the drop in immigration between 2008 and 2012 to the recession, believing that a lack of jobs kept many without U.S. citizenship out of the country.

The study shows numbers varying state by state. About 60 percent of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. live in California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Texas alone saw increases in its unauthorized immigrant population over the 2007-2011 period. It did not see a decrease during this time period. The other four states saw high numbers of unauthorized immigrants in 2007. The following couple of years were met with declines.

Some legislators take this data as a reason to tighten boarder security. As talks continue over the proposed immigration reform bill, still sitting in the House, Republicans are calling for increased security. Other groups working on smaller bills have focused on this point.

Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, disagrees with some lawmakers. She feels that immigration rates are affected my multiple facets. In the case of U.S. immigration decreases, there were fewer jobs available, border protection was solid and the Mexican economy was improving. Now, the only change is that the U.S. economy is back on the rise with more jobs opening up.

Researchers at Pew develop estimates using a complex formula. The formula calculates the number of legal immigrants in the country and then subtracts that number from the total foreign-born population of the U.S. Last year the foreign-born population was 41.7 million. Approximately 28 percent of that total was made up of undocumented immigrants, the Pew study reported.