Photo: Tomas Castelazo / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

5 talking points about undocumented immigration from Mexico


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There’s a good chance that 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will again say something slanderous about Mexican immigrants, documented or undocumented, who are living in the U.S. There’s an equally good chance Republican candidate Gov. Scott Walker will be drilled about deportation. And on the Democratic end of the race, there is plenty to consider on the topic as well.

Thankfully, the PEW research team always offers some fact-checkable talking points to help aid our discussion.

In a report released a few days ago, PEW researchers Ana Gonzalez-Barrera and Jens Manuel Krogstad discuss what we know about illegal immigration from Mexico.

Here are the five conclusions from their report:

1. Since 2007, the number of Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. without documentation has declined.

In 2012, 5.9 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico lived in the U.S., down about 1 million from 2007. Despite the drop, Mexicans still make up a slight majority (52% in 2012) of unauthorized immigrants. At the same time, unauthorized immigration overall has leveled off in recent years. As a result, net migration from Mexico likely reached zero in 2010, and since then more Mexicans have left the U.S. than have arrived.

2. More non-Mexicans than Mexicans were apprehended at U.S. borders in 2014.

In fiscal 2014, 229,178 Mexicans were apprehended, a sharp drop from a peak of 1.6 million apprehended in 2000. The decline in apprehensions reflects the decrease in number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S.

3. Border detainment dropped while deportations reached a record high in 2013.

4. "Unauthorized" (undocumented) Mexican immigrants are more more likely to work in construction than in other services.

Among Mexican unauthorized immigrants ages 16 and older who were employed in 2012, 19% worked in construction and 13% worked in a wide range of businesses like legal services, landscaping and car washes. By comparison, among unauthorized immigrant workers overall, 16% worked in construction and 22% in services.

5. Undocumented immigrants from Mexico make up at least three-quarters of the total unauthorized immigrant population in 10 states.

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