Blog Archive

Friday, February 26, 2010

Nation's illegal population drops by 1 million, Florida's by 120,000

The Miami Herald
Feb. 25, 2010

When the first indications surfaced almost two years ago that the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States was declining, skeptics suggested it was a statistical glitch.

Now, for the first time, the official Homeland Security report that tracks undocumented immigrants has confirmed that the illegal population fell significantly, by almost 1 million people, between 2008 and 2009. Among the states with the biggest decline: Florida, which lost an estimated 120,000 migrants.

Federal officials attribute the decline to the long-running recession, which has left about one in 10 U.S. workers without a job.

The new figures, released by the Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics, marks the first official federal government confirmation of a significant decline in the number of undocumented immigrants.

Last year's report showed a decline of only about 200,000 immigrants, too small a figure to affirm a trend. Other estimates have come largely from non-governmental agencies.

The latest federal report is considered the most authoritative statistical source on illegal immigration because it is assembled by officials specifically assigned to monitor undocumented immigrant trends and figures.

It found that the number of undocumented immigrants nationwide in 2009 dropped to 10.8 million from an estimated 11.6 million the previous year. In Florida, the number fell from 840,000 in 2008 to 720,000 in 2009.

The report did not break down the Florida numbers by nationality, but said Mexicans make up the bulk of the nation's illegal population.

News of a decline in illegal immigrants comes at a time when immigration advocates are intensifying pressure on the Obama administration to legalize the nation's undocumented immigrants.

Obama administration officials have said immigration reform is the next major legislative overhaul after healthcare reform.

But some immigration reform advocates expressed doubts after Obama recently indicated that the battered economy was now the priority.