Posted on July 2, 2019

What We Know About Illegal Immigration from Mexico

Ana Gonzalez-Barrera and Jens Manuel Krogstad, Pew Research, June 28, 2019

There were 11.6 million immigrants from Mexico living in the United States in 2017, and fewer than half of them (43%) were in the country illegally, according to Pew Research Center estimates. Mexico is the country’s largest source of immigrants, making up 25% of all U.S. immigrants.


The number of Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. illegally has declined by 2 million since 2007. In 2017, 4.9 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico lived in the U.S., down from a peak of 6.9 million in 2007. Mexicans now make up fewer than half of the nation’s 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants (47% in 2017).

{snip} In fiscal 2018, which ended Sept. 30, the Border Patrol made 152,257 apprehensions of Mexicans. This is a sharp drop from a recent peak of 1.6 million apprehensions in fiscal 2000, when Mexicans accounted for 98% of apprehensions. The decline in apprehensions reflects a decrease in the number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S.


Mexican unauthorized immigrant adults are more likely to be long-term residents of the U.S. As of 2017, 83% had lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years, while only 8% had been in the country for five years or less. By comparison, 51% of unauthorized immigrant adults from countries other than Mexico had lived in the U.S. a decade or more as of 2017, while 30% had lived in the U.S. for five years or less.

About 536,000 unauthorized immigrants from Mexico are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as of April 2019, which provides work permits and protection from deportation to those who meet certain requirements. Mexico is the origin country with the most active DACA recipients by far. The next highest countries are El Salvador (26,000), Guatemala (17,000) and Honduras (16,000). {snip}