Number of illegal immigrants remained steady in 2009-’10

The number of illegal immigrants living in the United States has remained constant for the past two years, a report released Feb. 1 by the Pew Hispanic Center said.

Pew Hispanic Center is an American think tank organization that provides information on issues facing the U.S.  It conducted a survey and compiled this final report regarding illegal immigrants.

Between 2009 and 2010, the U.S. had an additional 100,000 illegal immigrants enter the country, the report said.  In March 2010, there were 11.2 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. compared to 11.1 million in 2009. This number is down from the peak of 12 million in 2007.

Richard Friman, a Marquette professor of political science, said Pew releases these numbers so the political world has undisputed illegal immigration figures  to discuss.

“These (figures) are as definitive as we can get so Congress doesn’t throw around a bunch of random numbers, but these numbers also show that we are leveling off in the level of illegal immigration,” Friman said.

According to its website, Pew uses the census to gather the information and create its survey so the group is not accused of being biased.

“Because they have no agenda, they are highly respected and the statistics provided hold a lot of weight,” Friman said.

The study does not identify any reasons for the increase in illegal immigration, but there does seem to be a strong correlation between the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico and the immigration population.

Jeffery Passel, one of the study’s authors, reported to CNN that the decline of the illegal immigrant population from the 2007 peak is primarily driven by the decrease in the number of immigrants from Mexico.  In 2007 there were 7 million illegal immigrants from Mexico and 6.5 million in 2010.

Friman said with Pew’s assertion that making specific claims behind the reasoning for the somewhat stable unauthorized immigration population can’t be done; all the U.S. can do is look at the trends and rely on the yearly Pew survey.