WASHINGTON, February 1, 2011 (AFP) – The number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has leveled off at about 11 million, ending a two decade trend of steadily rising illegal immigration, a report released Tuesday said.
There were 11.2 million undocumented immigrants in the country in March 2010, virtually unchanged from the same month the previous year, when there were 11.1 million, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, which based its research on U.S. Census figures.
The number of illegal immigrants in the United States had been rising steadily since 1990, when there were just 3.5 million.
The current trend represents a decline from 2007 when there were a record 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Meanwhile, as the number of illegal immigrants entering the country has decreased, deportations have gone up over the past two years, the study said.
The economic downturn and current high levels of unemployment are other factors which could explain the lower overall numbers of illegal immigrants, according to the report, which said about eight million illegal migrants have jobs.
Pew said 58 percent of undocumented immigrants (6.5 million) were Mexican, while 23 percent (2.6 million) were from other Latin American countries.
The eight million illegal migrants with jobs account for 5.2 percent of the US labor force, the study estimates. The percentage has changed little over the past two years.
The states with the most undocumented immigrants are California (2.5 million), Texas (1.6 million) and Florida (825,000).
But states with the highest proportion of illegals are Nevada (7.2 percent), California (6.8 percent) and Texas (6.7 percent.)
In 2009, 350,000 children were born with at least one parent in the country illegally, about the same as the year before.
President Barack Obama’s government has promised to move forward on immigration reform that could open a way to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria, but the initiative remains stalled in Congress.