The decline then rise of the unauthorized population

The Center for Migration Studies estimates that the size of the unauthorized population in the U.S, grew by about 6% between 2021 and 2022, to reach 10,940. This was the largest one year increase since the early 2000s when upwards million were added in some years.

After about 2008, the unauthorized population remained between stable and slightly declining. The pandemic years, according to the Center, reverse this trend. The 2022 remains slightly lower than the peak reached in about 2008, which was 11 – 11.5 million.

Unauthorized migration for Mexico has been declining for some years and is the major reason for the decline. Central American migration, on the other hand, has surged.  Over the past 25 years, the Mexican share of unauthorized persons has declined from about 2/3 to 40%. Still, about 10% of the Mexican working age population is in the United States.

The Center used the American Community Survey to estimate the size of the unauthorized population. this is understandably a process fraught with risks of mis-estimation.

Why do I use the term unauthorized instead of undocumented or illegal? Because I think is the most meaningful for the three options.

What is the cause of the surge? The Center does not speculate. I suspect it has to do with the demand and rising wages for workers in occupations often populated wih unauthorized persons. the financial crisis in the late 2000s killed off the rise in this population. It is plausible that the better fortunes of workers in the lower formally educated cohorts are driving the reversal.



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