Illegal immigration is a hot-button issue in states like Arizona that share a border with Mexico. Much of the debate on this issue focuses on Mexican citizens entering the United States illegally, but a report from the Pew Research Center indicates that the number of Mexican immigrants is actually falling. The report, which was released on Sept. 20, concludes that the number of undocumented immigrants has remained fairly consistent for the last six years and an increase in immigration from Asia, Africa and Central America has made up for a reduction in the number of Mexicans entering the United Sates.
Undocumented immigration had been growing steadily for many years before peaking at 12.2 million in 2007, but the number of immigrants entering the country illegally fell sharply following the 2008 financial crisis. According to the Pew research report, about 11.1 million undocumented workers lived in the United States in 2015. Pew researchers also found that many undocumented immigrants are remaining in the country longer than in years past.
Between 2000 and 2014, the number of undocumented workers who had lived in the United States for 10 or more years increased from 36 percent to 66 percent. While the number of Mexican nationals entering the country illegally has declined in recent years, they still make up more than half of the country’s undocumented immigrant population. Illegal immigration from sub-Saharan Africa has increased by more than a third since 2010, and immigrants from Asia and Central America are also arriving in greater numbers.
Immigrants may enter the United States illegally because they are fleeing violence or oppression in their home countries or because they feel that they are unlikely to be granted a visa under tough U.S. immigration laws. Experienced immigration attorneys could file asylum petitions on behalf of immigrants who may face persecution upon returning to their home countries, and they could also explain the various visa programs available to those who dream of starting a new life in America.