According to a Pew Hispanic Center report, undocumented immigration to the United States has drastically declined in 2012. The report states that in 2011, 11.1 million undocumented immigrants lived in the United States, a number very close to the 11.2 believed to be living in the U.S. in 2010. In 2005, when the economic boom was just beginning in the United States, 11.1 million undocumented immigrants lived in the U.S., the same number believed to be here now. The number of undocumented immigrants has recently become static.
The decline in undocumented immigration to the United States is due to the decreased flow of new migrants from Mexico. According to a report released Monday, April 23 by the Pew Hispanic Center, 6.1 million undocumented immigrants from Mexico lived in the U.S. in 2011, down from 7 million that lived in the U.S. in 2007. In 2000, the Pew Hispanic Center report estimated that 770,000 Mexican immigrants, mostly undocumented, arrived in the U.S. each year while now only about 140,000 arrive every year. The cause for the decrease in undocumented immigration from Mexico is unknown but there are many speculations.
Almost certainly, the decrease in undocumented immigration is in part due to the poor economic state of the United States. Other theories behind the drop in undocumented immigration are the high unemployment rates, especially in construction, a field many undocumented immigrants are employed in; increased deportation on behalf of the Obama administration; tighter border security and declining birthrates in Mexico. Deportation has also affected the rate of entrance of Mexican undocumented immigrants into the U.S. Approximately 20 percent of deportees in 2010 said they would not attempt to re-enter into the U.S., a figure much larger than the 7 percent in 2005 who said they would not re-enter. Data from a 2010 Mexican census reports that approximately 1.4 million Mexican immigrants left the United States to return to Mexico between 2005 and 2010, almost double the return rates before 2005.
The dwindling undocumented immigration could adversely affect the United States economy. According the Pew Hispanic Center report, 58 percent of the undocumented population in the U.S. is from Mexico, a large sector of the U.S. economy. With the decrease in Mexican immigration, agriculture and the food industry could be greatly affected. Industries such as the two mentioned previously have historically relied on cheap undocumented labor to sustain themselves. The drop in this source of cheap labor could be detrimental to many of these industries. This issue highlights an argument that has been present for some time.
Many anti-immigrant advocates believe that undocumented immigrants take away jobs from American citizens. However, others believe that the jobs that undocumented immigrants tend to take are jobs that American citizens would not have taken in the first place, and would never take. With the decrease in undocumented immigrants in the United States, we will find out which side’s argument in correct. Let us hope the lack of undocumented immigrants will not have a lasting or immense impact on our economy. However if it does, the United States government will need to devise immigration reform that gives more visas to unskilled workers, work that is necessary for the U.S. economy to thrive.