What do the numbers say about trends in immigration to the U.S.?
Despite the ongoing uncertainty about whether Congress will pass immigration reform, more people appear to be coming to America. The latest figures from the respected Pew Research Center show that the number of undocumented immigrants has increased to 11.7 million. This number is up by 400,000 people since 2009.
The Pew Center’s Hispanic Trends Project cautioned that the increase was within the statistical margin of error for its study. The likelihood is, however, that immigration by those without documents is increasing again, after a drop during the Recession years of 2007-2009.
Jeffrey Passel, a demographic researcher at Pew, thinks that the end of the Recession has definitely affected immigration rates. This is no surprise, as historically immigration has always been closely connected to jobs that are available in the U.S. economy.
For example, after suffering greatly during the Recession, the construction industry now appears to be rebounding. And that bodes well for immigrants who are seeking jobs in that industry.
Of course, issues concerning work permits and the availability of visas are still present. There are plenty of other issues, too, such as the risk of deportation and access to drivers’ licenses and college financial aid.
The point of this post, however, is that the magnet of U.S. jobs appears to be driving more immigrants to come here. The impasse in Congress over reforming the immigration system does not change this apparent trend.
But even in the post-Recession economy, the U.S. unemployment rate remains high. Tensions over how much legal immigration to allow are therefore likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Source: MPR News, “New signs of rising illegal immigration into US,” Hope Yen, September 24, 2013