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For The First Time, Mexicans Are Not The Majority Of Undocumented Immigrants In The US

Mexicans now make up 47% of undocumented immigrants, the first time they have not been a majority since 1965.

Posted on June 12, 2019, at 2:01 p.m. ET

David Mcnew / Getty Images

The number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States has fallen to a 13-year low, and Mexicans are no longer the majority of people living in the country without authorization, according to a new report published Wednesday.

In 2017, there were 10.5 million undocumented immigrants in the US, down from its peak of 12.2 million in 2007, according to a new Pew Research Center study based on government data. The number is the lowest since 2004 when the US was home to 10.7 million undocumented immigrants.

The figures come as US immigration authorities are grappling with a record number of families and children at the border, many of them asylum-seekers from Central America. The rise of border apprehensions of people in this group has fueled the Trump administration's calls to toughen the US's response to immigrants, but its hawkish efforts have done little to decrease the numbers.

Pew Research Center / Via

The number of undocumented Mexican immigrants living in the US in 2017 was 4.9 million, a significant decrease from its peak of 6.9 million in 2007, the Pew Research Center said. The drop was a major reason for the decrease in the overall unauthorized population.

The total US population of Mexican immigrants has been on the decline. In 2015, a Pew Research Center analysis found that more Mexican immigrants had left the US since the end of the Great Recession than have entered, with family reunification cited as the top reason.

Much of the immigration debate has been focused on the southern border. Authorities say the number of families encountered at the border to request asylum has overwhelmed facilities, resulting in a lack of space to hold immigrants. The Trump administration has described the situation as a "crisis" and said the sheer number of immigrants arriving is overwhelming its ability to manage the border.

For the last three fiscal years, non-Mexicans have outnumbered Mexicans in border apprehensions.

Jacob Ford / AP

Mexicans now make up 47% of undocumented immigrants, the first time they have not been a majority since 1965 when the US enacted the Immigration and Nationality Act. Among several changes, the law placed the first limits on immigration from countries in the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico. Combined with the end of the Bracero Program in 1964, which brought Mexican workers to farmlands because of a shortage of US workers during World War II, the law is associated with a rise in undocumented immigrants from Mexico.

From 2007 to 2017 the number of undocumented immigrants from Asia and Central America has increased, the analysis found. Significant increases came from five countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, and Venezuela.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.