Arizona's Unauthorized Immigrant Population Decreasing

Arizona is one of 14 states where the population of unauthorized immigrants decreased from 2009 to 2012, according to data released today by the Pew Research Center.

According to the organization's analysis, Arizona's unauthorized immigrant population dropped from around 350,000 people to 300,000 people. Only New York and California had larger decreases.

"There were really big drops in the number of unauthorized Mexicans in the country between 2007 and 2009, and since then, there have continued to be decreases in the Mexican population," Pew Research Center demographer Jeffrey Passel tells New Times.

See also: -Number of Unauthorized Immigrants in the U.S. Virtually Unchanged

Nationally, the number of unauthorized immigrants was virtually unchanged from 2009 to 2012, at an estimated 11.2 million people, slightly lower than the peak population in 2007, of 12.2 million people.

Growth in Unauthorized Immigration Has Leveled Off

(According to an explanation of Pew's terminology, some people with "quasi-legal" status, such as those receiving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, are still considered unauthorized in this research. "Data are very limited, but this 'quasi-legal' group could account for as much as 10% of the unauthorized population," the report says. "Many could also revert to unauthorized status.")

This report didn't get into the reasons behind any of the unauthorized immigrant population shifts, but there are some ideas.

"The main reason the immigrants go where they go are, they have family and friends there, or the economic opportunities are good there," Passel says.

He says one of the big drivers of growth from Mexico in the early 2000s was the real estate boom. In Arizona, where real estate is a big part of the economy, that's especially true -- there were an estimated half-million unauthorized immigrants in Arizona in 2007, and the 2012 estimate dropped to 300,000 people.

Mexican Unauthorized Immigrant Population Declines Since 2007 Peak

One of the big factors for several states' declines outlined in Pew's report is a decrease in immigrants from Mexico.

"According to the new Pew Research Center estimates, there were 5.9 million Mexican unauthorized immigrants in 2012, compared with 6.4 million in 2009," the report says.

States with Largest Unauthorized Immigrant Populations, 2012

In the seven states where unauthorized immigrant populations increased, it was due to an increase in non-Mexican populations, the report says.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that President Obama is willing to take executive action to extend deportation relief to the unauthorized immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children.

Pew estimates Arizona has the nation's fourth-largest share of students with unauthorized immigrant parents.

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