U.S.’s Undocumented Population Is Lowest in over a Decade

A new report from the Pew Research Center gives an updated portrait of the undocumented population in the U.S., which stood at 10.7 million people in 2016, down 13% from a high of 12.2 million in 2007, and the lowest number since 2004.    In 2016, unauthorized immigrants represented 24% of the foreign born in the U.S., compared to 30% in 2007.

The population of individuals lacking legal authorization to be in the U.S. would actually be about 9.7 million, since Pew included in its count the approximately 700,000 individuals with work permission and temporary status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as the over 300,000 persons with work permission who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

The report finds that the drop is largely attributable to a decrease  in undocumented immigrants from Mexico, while the number increased of those from Central America,  particularly El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, countries where gangs, violence, and political unrest have caused people to flee.

Two-thirds of 10.7 million population that Pew studied had lived in the U.S. for more than a decade, typically for nearly fifteen years, with 43% of them having U.S. citizen children.  Only 18% had lived in the U.S. for five or fewer years.

Two-thirds of the undocumented population also were of the prime working  ages of 18 to 44, compared to about one-third of native U.S. citizens.  As of 2016, undocumented men aged 18-65 had high labor force participation: 91% compared to 79% for native born men.  Undocumented women were less likely to be in the labor force, 61% compared to 73% for native born women, largely due to being more likely to have young children at home.

While the undocumented population represented about 5% of the labor force in 2016, they were over-represented in certain industries, including agriculture, construction, leisure/hospitality, among others, all of which are critical components of Maine’s economy.

For more details, you can find the report here.