Study: Undocumented Immigrants in US Reached Ten-Year Low

    28 November, 2018

    On Tuesday, the Pew Research Center reported that the number of immigrants staying in the United States without permission fell to a ten-year low in 2016. Researchers used government data to show that from 2007 to 2016, the number of undocumented immigrants dropped from 12.2 million to 10.7 million.

    Pew linked the decrease to a large reduction in the number of Mexicans crossing the U.S. border illegally.

    However, the number of immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras trying to cross over from Mexico illegally was up. Central America is the only region for which there was an increase in undocumented immigrants during the period of the study.

    FILE - Demonstrators with signs on an overpass in Indianapolis, Indiana, protest against people who immigrate illegally July 18, 2014.
    FILE - Demonstrators with signs on an overpass in Indianapolis, Indiana, protest against people who immigrate illegally July 18, 2014.

    Arrests of Central Americans at the U.S.-Mexico border have also risen. But Pew researchers said arrests remained well below their highest number in 2014.

    Most unauthorized immigrants overstayed their visas

    Researchers found that two-thirds of adult unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years. Most unauthorized immigrants enter the U.S. on legal visas and remain after their visas reach the end of the period of stay they permit.

    The latest overstay report showed that more than 700,000 holders of visas whose time limits had been reached should have left in the 2017 fiscal year. Pew said 90 percent of overstays were from countries other than Mexico or Central America.


    Pew noted that forced expulsions – called deportations – of undocumented immigrants rose during the years when George W. Bush and Barack Obama were president. Deportations reached their highest point in 2013. These deportations could have affected the decrease in the undocumented population.

    In the fiscal year 2016, most deportations were of people from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

    The report showed that based on limited data, deportations appear to have declined since then. It also shows a decline in those arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as an increase in those arrested inside the United States.

    I'm Kelly Jean Kelly.

    Molly McKitterick reported this story for VOA. Pete Musto adapted it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor. We want to hear from you. How do you think the numbers of undocumented immigrants entering the United States will change over the next ten years? Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.


    Words in This Story

    regionn. a part of a country or of the world that is different or separate from other parts in some way

    unauthorizedadj. without permission

    visa(s) – n. an official mark or stamp on a passport that allows someone to enter or leave a country usually for a particular reason

    fiscal yearn. a 12-month period used by a government, business, or organization to calculate how much money is being earned and spent

    deportation(s) – n. to force a person who is not a citizen to leave a country