For the first time, the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. was lower in 2015 than it was at the end of the Great Recession in 2009. The origin countries of unauthorized immigrants also shifted during that time, with the number from Mexico declining and the number from other regions rising, according to the latest Pew Research Center estimates.
Here are five facts about the unauthorized immigrant population in the U.S.
The Center’s preliminary estimate of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2016 is 11.3 million, which is statistically no different from the 2009 or 2015 estimates because it is based on a data source with a smaller sample size and larger margin of error. Unauthorized immigrants represented 3.4% of the total U.S. population in 2015. The number of unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.
2Mexicans may no longer be the majority of U.S. unauthorized immigrants. They made up half of all unauthorized immigrants in 2016, according to the Center’s preliminary estimate, marking the first time in at least a decade that they did not account for a clear majority of this population. Their numbers (and share of the total) have been declining in recent years: There were 5.6 million Mexican unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016, down from 6.4 million in 2009.
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Meanwhile, the number of unauthorized immigrants from nations other than Mexico has grown since 2009, from 5 million that year to 5.4 million in 2015. Non-Mexicans numbered 5.7 million in the preliminary 2016 estimate, a total that was not statistically different from 2015.
From 2009 to 2015, the number of unauthorized immigrants from Asia and Central America rose. Increases in the number from other countries have mostly offset the decline in the number from Mexico (and a relatively small decrease in the number from South America).
To learn more: Explore unauthorized immigrant population trends for states, birth countries and regions, and see an interactive map and detailed table showing our latest estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population by state.
Note: This post was originally published on Nov. 18, 2014, and has been updated to include more recent data.