The research was done by the independent Pew Hispanic Center and finds substantially fewer undocumented workers from Mexico and other Latin American countries are crossing the border in search of jobs. The study estimates 11.1 million undocumented immigrants lived in the U.S. in 2009. That’s a million less than the peak in 2007. Jeronimo Cortina is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Houston. He says he’s not surprised.
“If an immigrant needs to pay a certain amount of money to cross without proper documentation to the U.S. and he is going to be making less money here due to the economic crisis, then why is that migrant going to move? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay that amount of money and you’re not going to be making that money once you arrive here.”
Cortina says the Pew findings fly against a common perception that the borders are wide open and illegal immigration is out of control.
“The farther you go from the border, I assume that the perception of being invaded by millions of immigrants crossing the border at their own will increases. If you go down to the Valley, for example, and ask people what they think. Do they see that level of undocumented migration between Mexico and the U.S.? Most people are going to say no.”
The Pew findings were based on analysis of 2009 census data. The states with the highest percentage of illegal immigrants were California, Nevada and here in Texas, where illegal immigrants make up 6.5 percent of the population.