The number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States stayed steady for an eighth straight year in 2016, hovering just over 11 million people, according to a report published Tuesday.
The gradual improvement of the Mexican economy, the federal government’s additions to border security and a shift in the demographics of Latin America all contributed to the nearly decade-long freeze in illegal immigration, according to the report by Pew Research Center. After nearly two decades of growth throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the undocumented population has stabilized, reaching about 11.3 million in 2016.
Still, President Trump is cracking down on illegal immigration and increasing deportations. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News that the proposed border wall with Mexico remains a priority for Trump but does not have to be funded in this week’s spending bill, making it easier for Congress to avert a government shutdown.
Critics say the numbers in the Pew report show how misguided those efforts are.
“It feels like it’s out of step with what the U.S. really needs right now,” said Angela Kelley, senior strategic adviser for immigration at the Open Society Policy Center. “Of course we need to enforce our border, and we do that rigorously. But rather than the bluster of the border wall, it would show real leadership if this administration could deal sensibly with the 11 million people living here.”
The White House says it’s simply responding to the will of the voters by making illegal immigration a central focus. On Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked why the president insists on more funding for border security when the number of people caught crossing the southwest border with Mexico has plummeted in the first months of his term.
By Alan Gomez for USA Today
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