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Illegal immigration declines sharply in California, across the country, report says

September 1, 2010 |  9:09 am

After years of rapid growth, illegal immigration is slowing down in California and across the country, with the state’s share of the nation’s estimated 11.1 million undocumented immigrants dropping to 23% from 42% in 1990, according to a new study released Tuesday.

ILLEGALS_Burn The slowdown in California mirrors the overall reduction in the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S, according the study by the Pew Hispanic Center. The number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. dropped to 11.1 million in 2009 from a peak of 12 million in 2007 – what the study’s researchers called the “first significant reversal” in illegal immigrant growth over the last two decades.

Fewer illegal immigrants came to the U.S. every year between 2007 and 2009 than in the years in the first half of the decade, the study found. About 300,000 illegal immigrants entered the U.S. each year between 2007 and 2009, a drop from the 850,000 new unauthorized immigrants that entered each year between 2000 and 2005.

The study, which is drawn largely from Census data and labor statistics, cited the recession and increased border enforcement as possible reasons for the slowdown. Several South Atlantic states between Delaware and Georgia that have become new immigrant magnets in recent years have also seen a decline in its illegal migrant population, according to the study.

California still has the largest concentration of illegal immigrants in the nation with 2.6 million, which is about 1 million more living in the state than in 1990, according to the report.

The study echoes the findings of a report issued earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which concluded that illegal immigration had declined by nearly 1 million between 2008 and 2009. This was the second consecutive year of decline and sharpest decrease in at least three decades.

-- My-Thuan Tran

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