5 Charts That Show Undocumented Population Trends

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Immigration trends tend to follow the economy, so when the recession hit in 2007, the number of people living into the U.S. without legal status understandably went down.

That recession-induced decline appears to be over, and illegal immigration may even be on the rise, according to a report released on Monday by the Pew Research Center.


Here are five charts from the report that show you how population trends are changing among undocumented immigrants:

1. The numbers overall are pretty steady

So the drop-off in the number of unauthorized immigrants has slowed down, and may even be over. But it’s important to note that the amount of people living here without legal status hasn’t increased in any statistically significant way in recent years.

Pew’s revised estimate shows the undocumented population going from 11.5 million people in 2010 to 11.7 million in 2012. So while the media will probably start rounding up to 12 million, there hasn’t been any statistically significant growth in the past few years.


2. Texas continues to draw undocumented immigrants

In 2007, the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. started to fall off. Not in Texas, though.


Immigration has been a hot issue in Texas for a long time, but this just underscores how much it matters for some politicians in that state.


3. Fewer undocumented immigrants are from Mexico

Mexicans make up roughly half of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. but their share of the greater undocumented population has been on the decline.


For example, in 2007, Mexicans made up 57 percent of all unauthorized immigrants. That fell to 52 percent in 2012.


In addition to the economic troubles in the U.S., there are lots of reasons for the reduction from Mexico, including a dramatic drop in the Mexican birth rate over the past several decades.

4. Deportations have reached record highs

Deportations and other forms of removal have skyrocketed in the last decade, and have remained high and steady during the Obama administration.


So even while the undocumented population has fallen off, we’ve been deporting people at a record clip.


5. Most undocumented immigrants live in six states

Some of the biggest opponents of immigration reform, like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) or Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), come from places with some of the smallest numbers of undocumented immigrants. So basically they’re railing against giving undocumented immigrants legal status even though it’s largely irrelevant in their states and districts.


More than half of all undocumented immigrants live in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Texas.

Here’s what the demographic trends look like in the rest of the country:


Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.

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