The annual report by the non-partisan Center for Migration Studies reports that the undocumented population in the United States at the end of 2016, 10.7 million, was the lowest since 2003, with the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. from Mexico down by nearly one million between 2010 and 2016, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Robert Warren, the author of the study, says there are a number of reasons for this drop in illegal immigrants, including a significant increase in border security.
"The Border Patrol doubled between 2000 and 2008, and then it pretty much doubled again," he told News Radio 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.
Warren says economic conditions in Mexico also improved, giving Mexican nationals less of a reason to risk everything by attempting to live illegally in the U.S. Demographic changes in Mexico, generally fewer young men in their 20s and early 30s, prime migration age, also changed the equation.
The numbers of illegal immigrants living in most U.S. states fell by double digit percentages between 2010 and 2016, including a drop of 13 percent in New York, and 20 percent in Illinois.But the only state to see an increase in its undocumented population in that time was Texas, with the illegal immigrant population up 2%.
Warren says that is an example of the changing face of illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants from Mexico can enter the U.S. anywhere along the border, but Warren says we saw increases in illegal immigration from Honduras (up 5%), Guatemala (up 2%) and El Salvador (up 1%) despite the 1% overall drop in illegal migration into the U.S..
He says for people coming to the U.S. from what is known as the 'Northern Triangle of Central America,' Texas is a much more convenient border crossing point than places further west like Arizona, which saw a 12% drop in illegal immigration.
Warren says the U.S. also saw significant increases in illegal immigration between 2010 and 2016 from India, China, and Africa, although illegal immigration from other previously large 'sender' countries like South Korea, Colombia, Peru, and, interestingly, Poland fell sharply as economic conditions improved in those countries.
There are an estimated 1,758,000 illegal immigrants living in Texas today, secondly only to the 2.5 million living in California.