The number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants in the U.S. declined so rapidly in the past 10 years that they no longer make up the majority of illegal aliens living in the country, according to an estimate from Pew Research Center.
The number of Mexican nationals living in the U.S. illegally reached a peak of 6.9 million in 2007. However, by 2017, this number had dropped to 4.9 million, according to Pew’s research. The significant decline of unauthorized Mexicans even contributed to a drop in the country’s overall illegal population, falling from 12.2 million in 2007 to 10.5 million in 2017.
“The number of Mexican unauthorized immigrants declined because more left the U.S. than arrived,” the study wrote.
The large drop in illegal Mexicans — coinciding with an increase of illegal immigration from other countries — resulted in them no longer making up the majority of the U.S.’s illegal population for the first time in recent history. Nevertheless, their population still makes up a significant plurality, accounting for 47% of the total illegal population in the country
The study’s findings are not surprising given the recent trends in illegal immigration — changes that have pushed law enforcement officials past the breaking point.
Over half a million illegal immigrants have been apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol since the beginning of the 2019 fiscal year. The situation only appears to be escalating, with migrant apprehensions increasing every month since January, and encounters at the U.S. southern border topping 100,000 for the past three months.
The majority of the migrants appearing before Border Patrol agents are unaccompanied minors and family units from Central America’s Northern Triangle region. Their migration numbers are so dramatic, in fact, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in May that more than 1% of the population of Guatemala and Honduras has left for the U.S. since September 2018.
The demographic changes have created upheaval among law enforcement agents constrained by laws that were designed to deal with adult Mexican men traveling alone — not Central American migrants traveling unaccompanied minors or family units. Homeland Security leadership has continually begged Congress to deliver more funding and changes to the laws to better deal with the influx of noncontiguous immigrants.
Pew’s findings reflected the demographic changes witnessed by Border Patrol.
“The number of unauthorized immigrants rose over the 2007-2017 decade from two birth regions: Asia and Central America,” the study wrote, specifically naming the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. “India and Venezuela also had increases in their U.S. populations of unauthorized immigrants over the past decade.”
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