Unauthorized immigrants today are fewer, longer tenured

Pew Research reports that there were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2016, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. In 2016 there were 5.4 million unauthorized Mexicans, 1.5 million less than in 2007.

Between 2007 and 2016, the unauthorized population in the U.S. shrank by 13% while the legal immigrant population rose by 22%.  In Arizona, which introduced a tough law to discourage unauthorized persons, the unauthorized population declined by 44%. (Requiring employers to use a federal electronic database called E‑Verify to check the legal status of employees; requiring law enforcement to inquire about immigration status during a lawful stop; and making unauthorized immigrant students ineligible for in-state college tuition rates.)

In 2007, the immigrant population was 28.2 legal (70%) and 12.2 million unauthorized (30%). In 2016, the legal population was 76% of the total; unauthorized, 24%.

The decline is due almost entirely to a sharp decrease in the number of Mexicans entering the country without authorization.

Important segments of the unauthorized population:

Of the 10.7 million unauthorized persons, one half are from Mexico. 700,000 are legally protected as Dreamers (DACA). Two-thirds of adult unauthorized immigrants have lived in the country for more than 10 years. A rising share of unauthorized immigrant adults – 43% in 2016 compared with 32% in 2007 – live in households with U.S.-born children. The great majority of children living with an unauthorized person was born in the U.S. (5 million born in U.S. vs 0.7 million born outside the U.S.)


Most unauthorized immigrants live with spouses, partners, their children or other relatives. In 2016, 5.6 million children younger than 18 were living with unauthorized immigrant parents





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *