Arizona’s Illegal Population Drops 200,000 since 2008
Print Friendly and PDF

There is more proof from the Grand Canyon State that enforcement works when appropriate legal strategies are consistently followed on the border and in the workplace.


According to a recent study from DHS, the number of illegals in the nation is about the same. (See the Chicago Tribune, Number of illegal immigrants in U.S. is stable: DHS)

The total number hasn’t changed much nationwide, but there is clearly a movement of illegals between the states, where they leave places that enforce American sovereignty and go to lawbreaker-welcoming states. For example, Alabama’s tough enforcement has convinced illegal foreigners to depart for elsewhere, as New Orleans has experienced.

There have been local reports of illegals voluntarily leaving Arizona, even in advance of the state’s enforcement-only law, but this is the first instance of 2010 Census data being examined to tease out movements of illegal aliens.

You can read the seven-page DHS report online: Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2011.

Arizona’s illegal-immigration population plunges: 200,000 have left state since ‘08, feds estimate, Arizona Republic, March 23, 2012

The size of Arizona’s undocumented-immigrant population has dropped significantly in recent years and is now near its lowest level in a decade, according to new government estimates.

A report released Friday by the Department of Homeland Security, based on 2010 census data, estimated there were 360,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona as of January 2011.

That is down 110,000 from a year earlier. It also is down 200,000 from the peak in 2008, when an estimated 560,000 illegal immigrants lived in Arizona. Those estimates are based on 2000 census data.

Experts say the the primary factor behind the exodus was the lack of jobs during the recession, but tighter border enforcement and tough immigration laws also played a role.

A DHS official cautioned against making direct comparisons between the estimates released Friday and earlier DHS estimates because they are based on census data a decade apart.

But, experts say, the new figures confirm a strong downward trend in the size of the undocumented population in Arizona, which has long been considered ground zero for illegal immigration. The size of the state’s undocumented population and the state’s reputation as the main corridor for illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexican border feed into that consideration, they say. 

“There are certainly indications that the numbers of undocumented immigrants in Arizona are dropping,” said Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that also studies the nation’s undocumented population.

The report suggests that the undocumented population in Arizona is at its lowest level since 2000, when an earlier DHS report estimated that there were 330,000 illegal immigrants in the state.

Although there is no question Arizona’s undocumented population has decreased sharply, it’s difficult to say by how much, Passel said. That is because the 2010 census counted fewer Latinos in Arizona than previously estimated. As a result, the state’s undocumented population may not have been as large as once thought, he said.

Border Patrol apprehensions, an indicator of the number of illegal immigrants crossing the border, are also down in Arizona. In the Tucson Sector, the nation’s busiest portion of the border for smuggling, apprehensions fell 41 percent last year compared with the previous year.

Lisa Magana, a political-science professor and immigration expert at Arizona State University’s School of Transborder Studies, said the undocumented population in Arizona has decreased primarily because of the economy. Fewer jobs in construction and the tourism industry spurred many illegal immigrants to leave and fewer to arrive, she said.

She said tighter border security and a series of state immigration-enforcement laws, such as Senate Bill 1070, aimed at driving illegal immigrants out of Arizona also played a role.

She believes proponents of immigration-enforcement laws will continue to push for more. But the laws will have a harder time getting passed — not necessarily because illegal immigration in the state is down but because the economy is improving.

State Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, said he agrees that the state’s undocumented population has decreased because of fewer jobs.

But he said illegal immigration remains a major problem in the state.

This year, he introduced two bills that would have required schools and hospitals in Arizona to keep track of illegal immigrants. Both bills died.

Smith also said he has no plans to back off from sponsoring illegal-immigration-enforcement bills, despite the decrease in the state’s undocumented population. He said that as the economy rebounds so will illegal immigration.

“I will continue to introduce any legislation that will help us get a handle on this problem,” he said.

The Department of Homeland Security relied on the 2010 American Community Survey, based on the 2010 census, to estimate the size of the nation’s undocumented population.

In general, the undocumented population was calculated by subtracting the number of legal residents from the total number of foreign-born people living in the U.S.

The report said there were 11.5 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. as of January 2011. The report also revised the nation’s undocumented population for 2010 to 11.6 million from an earlier estimate of 10.8 million. That was because the 2010 census counted more Latinos in the U.S. than previous estimates, the reverse of Arizona, Passel said.

Arizona now ranks ninth out of the 10 states with the largest undocumented populations, according to the new DHS report.

Last year, Arizona ranked fifth among states with the largest undocumented populations.

New York, with an estimated 630,000 illegal immigrants; Georgia, with 440,000; New Jersey, with 420,000; and North Carolina, with 400,000, have all jumped ahead of Arizona as states with large numbers of undocumented immigrants, according to the report.

California, with an estimated 2.8 million undocumented immigrants, has the largest number, followed by Texas, with 1.8 million, and Florida, with 740,000. Illinois ranks fifth, with 550,000.

Print Friendly and PDF