A new report on the unauthorized population in the U.S. comes at a politically charged moment, as Congress begins in earnest to consider immigration reform and a possible path to citizenship for the nation’s unauthorized residents. The report, co-authored by Robert Warren, former demographer of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and John Robert Warren, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, puts the size of the unauthorized population at 11.7 million as of January 2010. The report’s findings are highly relevant to the U.S. immigration debate.

The report documents modest success in meeting a goal shared by partisans on both sides of the immigration divide; i.e., reducing the unauthorized population. It finds that unauthorized “arrivals” or “inflows” declined in every state but Mississippi (and Washington, D.C.) between 2000 and 2009. Over the same period, “departures” or “outflows” from this population increased in every state. In some states, unauthorized arrivals continued to outpace departures. However, the number of unauthorized residents fell in 29 states and Washington, D.C. during this period. Moreover, unauthorized arrivals plummeted nationally from 1.39 million to 384,000 over the same period, while departures rose from 369,000 to 558,000. As a result of these trends, the U.S. unauthorized population decreased in 2008 and 2009.

The report also finds that nearly two-thirds of U.S. unauthorized residents live in California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Georgia. Yet, of these states, only Georgia is among the seven states with the fastest growing unauthorized populations. Between 1990 and 2010, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Georgia each experienced more than an eleven-fold increase in their unauthorized populations. Perhaps not coincidentally, these states have been flashpoints for anti-immigrant anger and activism. Three of them – Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia – passed omnibus immigration enforcement laws. It may well be that the rate of growth of the unauthorized population contributes more to social discord over immigration than does the overall number of unauthorized residents.

Source: Huffington Post