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Undocumented Immigration Declines; Mexicans No Longer Majority

The annual number of undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. declined by nearly 2 million over the last decade, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data published June 12.

Immigrants entering the U.S. without documentation each year steadily increased from 3.5 million in 1990 to a height of 12.2 million in 2007, before declining to 10.5 million in 2017.

A similar pattern was found regarding undocumented immigrants from Mexico, increasing from 2 million in 1990 to a height of 6.9 million in 2007, then declining to 4.9 million by 2017.

Over that same period, the total number of undocumented immigrants from other nations steadily increased from 1.4 million (1990) and to 5.5 million (2017), eclipsing the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico for the first time.

“The decline in unauthorized immigrants from Mexico and rise from other parts of the world is one sign of a change in how recent arrivals to this population enter the country,” the report said. “A growing share of U.S. unauthorized immigrants do not cross the border illegally, but probably arrive with legal visas and overstay their required departure date. These ‘likely overstays’ have made up a large majority of unauthorized immigrant arrivals since 2010, according to Pew Research Center analysis.”

In 2017, undocumented immigrants represented 23% of the foreign-born U.S. population. Of the 45.6 million foreign-born lawful immigrants, 45% were naturalized citizens, 27% were lawful permanent residents, and 5% were temporary lawful residents.

The median length of time during which undocumented immigrants have lived in the U.S. more than doubled from 1995 to 2017, rising from 7.1 years to 15.1 years.

As of 2017, 66% of undocumented immigrants have lived in the U.S. for longer than 10 years.

While the number of undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. more than doubled from 1995 to 2017 (moving from 3.6% to 7.6%), the past decade saw a decline from a height of 8.2% in 2007.

Similarly, the percentage of undocumented workers as a share of the U.S. labor force also declined in recent years, dropping from a height of 5.4% in 2007 to 4.6% in 2017.

The full report is available here.