Illegal Immigration to U.S. Falls Most in Two Decades, Report Says

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Illegal immigration flow to the U.S. during the two years ended March 2009 fell by the most in 20 years and dropped about 45% from the two years ended March 2007 because of a combination of a slowing U.S. economy and heightened border patrol, Pew Research Center said in a report released Wednesday.

About 300,000 illegal immigrants entered the U.S. for the two years ended 2009, down from 550,000 for the two years ended 2007, according to the report. Because of the slowing rate, the number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. in March 2009 fell 8% from two years earlier to 11.1 million.

The immigration decline is largely a result of more border patrol in the southwestern U.S., as the number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S. in recent years fell dropped about 70% from typical levels earlier in the last decade.

Still, the current illegal immigrant population is still far larger than it was in past decades because of substantial immigration numbers in the 1990s and early 2000s, according to the Pew report. There are about a third more illegal immigrants in the U.S. now than there was in 2000 and about three times as many as in 1990.

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