The decline in illegal immigrants is dramatic. A research center said that the number of illegal border-crossers and visa violators in the U.S. dropped to fewer than 100,000 in 2010, down from 525,000 in 2004.
Experts say there are several reasons:
- Mexican families are smaller. Women are having two children compared to 6 children in 1970. There are fewer people likely to migrate.
- The Mexican census showed four million more people living in Mexico than expected. Fewer people are migrating.
- Enforcement at the border is better. It is more dangerous, difficult and expensive to enter the U.S. illegally.
- Programs such as the Secure Communities act are resulting in more deportations, especially for criminals.
- States such as Arizona and Alabama are actively trying to locate people in the U.S. illegally.
- It is easier to enter legally. The U.S. Consulate is issuing more visas and work permits. Mexican-American citizens are legally bringing in more relatives. Farmers are hiring more temporary workers.
- Education and employment opportunities have improved in Mexico. Family income is up by more than 45 percent since 2000.
American population figures show no overall increase in the illegal Mexican population. This means that most of the temporary visas issued to Mexicans — 1.1 million in 2010 — are being used legitimately.
Many experts conclude that more Mexicans are choosing to stay in Mexico. They say coming to the U.S. illegally is more difficult and coming to the U.S. legally is easier.