Illegal Immigration Into U.S. Lowest In 20 Years, Affecting Politics


As the U.S. Department of Homeland Security continues to pour money into border security, evidence is emerging that illegal immigration flows have fallen to their lowest level in at least two decades, reports the Washington Post. The nation's population of illegal immigrants, which more than tripled, to 12.2 million, between 1990 and 2007, has dropped by about 1 million, say demographers at the Pew Research Center. A key and largely overlooked sign of these ebbing flows is the changing makeup of the undocumented population. Until recent years, illegal immigrants tended to be young men streaming across the Southern border seeking work. Data show that the typical illegal immigrant now is much more likely someone who is 35 or older and has lived in the U.S. for a decade or more.

Homeland security officials in the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, who have more than doubled the Border Patrol's size and spent billions on drones, sensors and other technology at the border, say enhanced security is driving the new trends. “We have seen tremendous progress,” said R. Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “The border is much more secure than in times past.” The issue of border security is central to the broader debate over immigration reform that has roiled Washington and is emerging as a flash point in the 2016 presidential campaign. Congressional Republicans have insisted on greater border security before they consider legalizing immigrants who came to the U.S. without proper documents.

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