The Number of Illegal Immigrants May Surprise You

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Immigration has always been a very controversial subject for many people. There has always been the myth that immigration numbers in the United States are rising – and quickly. However, recent studies are proving that is not necessarily true. In fact, a 2015 report from the Center for Migration Studies says the number of undocumented illegal immigrants has fallen below 11 million for the first time since 2003.

Why is the Number Dropping?

There could be many contributing factors as to why the number of illegal immigrants is dropping; but, honing in on the true reason can be difficult as these people are, after all, “off the grid.” Here are some theories:

  • The collapse of the U.S. economy in 2008 – when the economy took a turn for the worse in 2008, finding jobs and affordable housing was difficult. This trend continued well into 2010, thus making it more challenging for immigrants to sustain themselves
  • Improvement of job market and economy in Mexico – Mexican-born immigrants account for a significant portion of the total immigrant population. However, in recent years, the Mexican economy has dramatically improved. Because more jobs are available in their home country, less people are feeling the need to start over in the U.S.


A Washington Times article stated that nearly 500 000 new-comers overstayed their VISA in 2015. Although this is a small sample, this of course does them illegal immigrants. The government doesn’t normally allocate its resources to investigating and arresting these people unless they commit a crime, are well known to the police, they are collecting government assistance (meaning they would be in the system), etc.

Which States Have the Highest Number of Illegal Immigrants?

There are specific states in which the immigration (both legal and illegal) is higher. Usually these states are those with higher populations or booming downtown cities with nightlife and/or tourist attractions. Chicago places fifth on the list of states with an estimated population of over 500 000 undocumented immigrants. Rounding out the top five are Florida, New York, Texas and California with over 3 million estimated undocumented immigrants.

Bonita Cho, Immigration Lawyer (Chicago)

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