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It is not like CNN’s Jim Acosta to give President Donald Trump credit but that is what he did on Wednesday.
It was likely accidental praise, but Acosta shared a story on Twitter that showed the number of illegal immigrants has fallen dramatically to a historic low during the president’s time as leader of the nation.
“Pew study: ‘There were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2016, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007, according to the new estimates. The total is the lowest since 2004,’” he wrote along with a link to the story.
Pew study: “There were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2016, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007, according to the new estimates. The total is the lowest since 2004.” https://t.co/2mrN3FMLvA
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 28, 2018
And the story is fantastic news for the president and for those who support legal immigration.
The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in more than a decade, according to new Pew Research Center estimates based on 2016 government data. The decline is due almost entirely to a sharp decrease in the number of Mexicans entering the country without authorization.
But the Mexican border remains a pathway for entry by growing numbers of unauthorized immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Because of them, Central America was the only birth region accounting for more U.S. unauthorized immigrants in 2016 than in 2007.
Should Acosta be banned from the White House?
There were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2016, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007, according to the new estimates.
The total is the lowest since 2004. It is tied to a decline of 1.5 million people in the number of Mexican unauthorized immigrants from 2007 to 2016. Nevertheless, Mexico remains the country of origin for 5.4 million unauthorized immigrants, or roughly half of the U.S. total.
The declining overall number of unauthorized immigrants is due mainly to a very large drop in the number of new unauthorized immigrants, especially Mexicans, coming into the country. Consequently, today’s unauthorized immigrant population includes a smaller share of recent arrivals, especially from Mexico, than a decade earlier. Increasingly unauthorized immigrants are likely to be long-term U.S. residents: Two-thirds of adult unauthorized immigrants have lived in the country for more than 10 years.
As overall numbers declined, other related changes occurred in the unauthorized immigrant population. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of unauthorized immigrant workers fell, as did their share of the total U.S. workforce over the same period. So did the number of unauthorized immigrant men in the prime working ages of 18 to 44, but not women in that age group.
As their typical span of U.S. residence has grown, a rising share of unauthorized immigrant adults – 43% in 2016 compared with 32% in 2007 – live in households with U.S.-born children.
Mexico’s historical significance as a source of U.S. immigration – authorized and especially unauthorized – overshadows that of other parts of the world, even after a decade of decline in unauthorized immigrants from that country. (For this reason, Mexico is treated as both a region and a country in this report for comparison purposes.) In the past decade, the number of unauthorized immigrants from South America and from Canada and Europe, combined, has declined, although by a smaller amount than from Mexico.
In the opposite direction, the number of unauthorized immigrants from Central America increased by 375,000 over the same 2007 to 2016 period. The 1.85 million Central American unauthorized immigrants in 2016 mainly came from the three Northern Triangle nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, all of which registered increases since 2007.
Among the 20 largest birth countries, unauthorized immigrant totals also grew from India and Venezuela over the 2007-16 period. Meanwhile, there were statistically significant declines from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Korea and Peru.
Overall, between 2007 and 2016, the unauthorized immigrant population shrank by 13%. By contrast, the lawful immigrant population grew 22% during the same period, an increase of more than 6 million people. In 2016, the U.S. was home to a total of 34.4 million lawful immigrants, both naturalized citizens and noncitizens on permanent and temporary visas.1
Pew Research Center’s estimate of the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population includes more than a million people who have temporary permission to stay and work in the U.S. under two programs that could be rescinded, potentially exposing them to deportation.
As of Aug. 31, 2018, nearly 700,000 young adults who came to the U.S. illegally as children were recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA was created by the Obama administration in 2012; the Trump administration announced in 2017 that the program would end, but it has been kept alive by court challenges.
Line chart showing that the typical unauthorized immigrant has lived in the U.S. for nearly 15 years. At least 317,000 people from 10 nations benefit from Temporary Protected Status, which is granted to visitors from countries where natural disaster or violence make it difficult to return. The Department of Homeland Security has announced plans to end protections for immigrants from six nations, including El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti, which account for the vast majority of the total.
The unauthorized immigrant estimates in this report also include some immigrants who applied for asylum status but whose applications had not yet been processed.
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