Stephen Ohlemacher, AP, Sept. 27
The pace of illegal immigration to the United States has increased despite tighter security measures and it generally parallels the pace of economic growth and the availability of jobs, a report said Tuesday.
The report by the Pew Hispanic Center also found that the stronger security steps since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 have had the effect of reducing legal immigration.
Overall, immigration to the United States declined along with the economy after 2000, but the report says the number of people trying to get into the country is on the upswing again.
Immigration — both legal and illegal — topped 1.5 million people in 1999 and 2000, according to the report. The number of people entering the United States then plummeted to 1.1 million people by 2003, the same level it was at in 1992.
Immigration levels bounced back to 1.2 million in 2004, but the report cautioned that it is difficult to predict whether the recent upswing is part of a new trend.
Since 2001, the number of legal permanent residents entering the United States has declined from 578,000 to 455,000, while the number of illegal immigrants has increased from 549,000 to 562,000. Legal, temporary residents account for the remainder of people entering the country.
Declines in legal immigration “appear to reflect processing backlogs, security delays and other developments that followed the Sept. 11 attacks,” the report says.