Number of illegal immigrants in U.S. now declining

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An independent research group today reports that the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. has dropped for the first time in 20 years.

The review finds that substantially fewer undocumented workers from Mexico, Latin America and elsewhere are crossing the border in search of jobs.

The analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center suggests the nation's economic downturn and increased border enforcement have reduced the number of illegal immigrants, who make up roughly 4 percent of the U.S. population.

The study estimates that 11.1 million illegal immigrants lived in the U.S. in 2009. That represents a decrease of roughly 1 million, or 8 percent, from a peak of 12 million in 2007.

The study, based on an analysis of 2009 census data, puts the number of illegal immigrants about where it was in 2005.

States with the highest percentage of illegal immigrants were California (6.9 percent), Nevada (6.8 percent), Texas (6.5 percent) and Arizona (5.8 percent).

--The unemployment rate for illegal immigrants in March 2009 was 10.4 percent -- higher than that of U.S.-born workers or legal immigrants, who had unemployment of 9.2 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively.


Online: Pew Hispanic Center: