What About Those Broken Borders? Pew Says Illegal Immigration Is Declining

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Border patrol vehicles are seen near thefence that divides Arizona (L) from Nogales, Mexico (R)

REUTERS/Alonso Castillo

As the Obama administration battles the merits behind Arizona’s immigration law, new figures show that fewer border-hoppers are making it into the country.

The Pew Hispanic Center released a study on Wednesday, noting that for the first time in two decades, illegal immigration is on a downward turn. During 2009, 11.1 million undocumented individuals roamed on American soil. That figure parallels the number of illegal persons back in 2005, and represents a decrease of 1 million people since illegal immigration reached its peak back in 2007. (See photos of the Great Wall of America)

In an overall 10-year context, there is also a pronounced month-by-month decrease. From 2000 to 2005, 850,000 individuals per month were able to cross country lines without legal papers. Since 2007, that monthly figure has dropped to 300,000 people per 30 days. Pew attributes the drop to a host of factors, ranging from economic difficulties to deportation. Senior Demographer Jeffrey Passel, a co-writer of the analysis, did not put a long-term timetable on what the figures mean. But he was confident that in the present, both the job market and Arizona’s enforcement measure are working in tandem.

“They’re certainly acting together,” Passel told the AP. (See photos of immigration detention in Arizona)