With the immigration debate taking center stage in Washington, a Pew Research Center report released Tuesday shows the unauthorized immigrant population has leveled off in the U.S., even as population trends in select states remain more volatile.
From 2009 to 2012, Pew estimates the unauthorized immigrant population rose in seven states and fell in 14. Those 21 states were the ones that had statistically significant changes in their populations of unauthorized immigrants during the period.
Five East Coast states—Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia—were among those where the numbers of unauthorized immigrants grew from 2009 to 2012. Totals also rose in Idaho and Nebraska, according to the center’s estimates.
“In the eastern states were the numbers went up it was due to non-Mexicans almost entirely,” said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at Pew and one of the report’s authors. “The destinations where immigrants chose to go are where they can find jobs and where they have families and friends.”
Passel said the growth in those states is mostly the result of immigrants from Central America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean.
I’m still mulling whether I think “unauthorized” is more insultingly euphemistic than “undocumented.” It is always best to be precise so I will continue to refer to them as “illegal” as to avoid any confusion.
Illegal immigration has been a problem largely confined to the west and southwest, leaving liberals in places like New York and Connecticut pontificating without risking any real pushback from constituents. It will be interesting to see how this plays out politically if the trend continues in in the east.
As for the drop in illegal immigrant population in California, that will probably be reversed when they’re all eligible for driver’s licenses next year.