WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study shows the number of Mexican immigrants living illegally in the U.S. has dropped significantly for the first time in decades. The figures represent a dramatic shift as many illegal workers, already in the U.S. and seeing few job opportunities, are returning to Mexico.
The analysis of census data from the U.S. and Mexican governments finds that roughly 6.1 million unauthorized Mexican immigrants were living in the U.S. last year. That’s down from a peak of nearly 7 million in 2007.
The Pew Hispanic Center report attributed much of the drop to a weak U.S. economy, which has shrunk construction jobs attractive to Mexican workers. But increased deportations, heightened U.S. patrols and violence along the border as well as Mexico’s declining birth rate, also have played a role.