Inflow of Undocumented Immigrants Slows

By Mary Ann Zehr — October 02, 2008 1 min read
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The number of undocumented immigrants coming to the United States has slowed, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report released today. The report, “Trends in Unauthorized Immigration: Undocumented Inflow Now Trails Legal Inflow,” says that 800,000 undocumented immigrants were coming to the United States on average per year from 2000 to 2004. But from 2005 to 2008, the annual average fell to 500,000, with a decrease from year to year.

The report says that 11.9 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States. It also says that from 2005 to 2008, it was no longer the case that more undocumented immigrants were coming to the United States than legal permanent residents, which had been the situation a decade ago. Update: The Wall Street Journal puts a face on the findings in the report in an Oct. 2 article.

The presence of undocumented children in schools can be controversial in communities, even though children are assured by the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe of a free K-12 education regardless of their immigration status.

The Frederick News-Post published an article this week, for instance, about how a sheriff in Frederick County is trying to get Maryland lawmakers to require a count of undocumented children who attend schools in his county. No lawmakers have gone for the idea. Based on my previous reporting, I can’t envision a legal way to do an actual count. Some states have provided estimates of the number of children in schools in their states who are born to undocumented parents. They’ve based those estimates on numbers from the Pew Hispanic Center.

By the way, it’s not as easy as one might think to come to the United States legally, according to the folks over at Reason Magazine, which promotes itself as a magazine for “free minds and free markets.” They’ve created a flow chart called, “What Part of Legal Immigration Don’t You Understand?”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.