Illegal Immigrants Move from America's Edges to the CenterUnauthorized immigrants have long been relegated to the fringes of the U.S. labor market. But according to a recent Pew Research Center study, that contingent is moving toward the center -- at least in the geographic sense.

Illegal immigrants are moving away from New York, Florida and the Mountain West states like Arizona, Utah and Nevada, and moving toward states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, the Pew Hispanic Center said in a report released last week.

Between 2007 and 2010, Florida's illegal immigrant population fell by 2.3% to 825,000, marking the largest percentage drop for a single state, while the number of undocumented immigrants in New York fell 2% to 625,000. Arizona, Utah and Nevada's collective illegal immigrant population fell 1.6% to 700,000.

Meanwhile, the undocumented immigrant population in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma rose by 2.4% to 1.8 million people over the same time period. California continues to host the largest population of illegal immigrants by far, accounting for 2.55 million, or 23% of the country's total last year, according to the report.

Where the Jobs Are

The migration trends of illegal immigrants may offer a more accurate, up-to-the-minute portrayal of how regional economies are doing than the movement trends of U.S. citizens, who are more likely to be tied down by permanent jobs and family obligations.

"At the national level, ups and downs in the unauthorized immigrant population tend to be associated with economic changes, so it makes sense that this could be a major factor at the state level, too," says D'Vera Cohn, senior writer at the Pew Research Center and one of the report's authors.

For instance, Nevada over the past decade has experienced a classic boom-and-bust economic cycle, with a surge in real estate activity being followed by a steep drop in both housing prices and tourism to Las Vegas. Utah has also seen its economy slow.

"In Nevada, the high unemployment, collapse of construction and slippage in tourism have all taken their toll," says Harley Shaiken, professor of education and geography at UC-Berkeley. "Regional variations reflect various issues. In Louisiana, for example, rebuilding from Katrina and the BP oil disaster both generated a need for labor."

Hostile Politics On Both Sides of the Border

Politics can't be overlooked either. Most notably, Arizona last year signed the country's strictest bill on illegal immigrants into law, which led to widespread controversy over the state's attitude toward all immigrants. Enactment of the law led to tourism and product boycotts from citizens and groups in other parts of the U.S., who felt that the law would encourage harassment of and discrimination against Latinos. Nearly six out of 10 unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. come from Mexico, and with the addition of other Latin American countries, that number rises to about eight out of 10.

"In places like Arizona, the economy has been affected by some of the boycotts," says Martha Menchaca, professor of anthropology at the University of Texas, who adds that the same geographic trends likely apply to legal immigrants and naturalized citizens as well. "If you're going to be in a state where they're hostile to you because of the way you speak, you're going to leave."

Regardless, for the country as a whole, the unauthorized immigrant population was little changed in 2010 after two straight years of declines, indicating that political and economic problems abroad may again be outweighing the effects of stricter border policies and a high U.S. unemployment rate on immigration.

In 2010, about 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants were in the U.S. -- about one in 27 people in the country. That was down from 12 million in 2007, though up from 8.4 million at the beginning of the decade.

A Renewed Flow of Immigrants?

What these shifts mean for the future of unauthorized immigrants within specific U.S. regions is anyone's guess, given the temporary nature of the work often filled by undocumented workers. Still, with the U.S. economy expecting to rebound, the total number of immigrants will likely reverse its recent decline over the next few years, Shaiken says.

"The draw of a stronger economy and problems at home are likely to trump an unfavorable political atmosphere in the U.S.," says Shaiken. "Jobs here are vital, and the drug violence in Central America and Mexico is both slowing their economies and fueling immigration."

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Just Stop private (wire) cash transfers to Mexico. Can you imagine Illegal Mexicans trying to get back to Mexico with cash money in their pockets?

February 13 2011 at 10:33 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

i've seen alot of illegals (hispanics) move into my area over the last 2 years...but hell i'd rather hispanics than radical least the hispanics will build while those islamists will blow things up.

February 12 2011 at 8:02 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Bojack Prisock

LOVE IT, everyone is pissed but what are we going to do about it???????????
We need some leader ship people, lets organize and fight this scourge instead of just sitting here complaining about it.

February 11 2011 at 5:55 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Believe me, I want them out as much as most of the people on this list. But I'll tell you the governments side of the story. They say our population is getting to old. And there isn't enough young people willing to do these jobs. I'll have to admit, I was at a friend's house, and her son worked a week with his dad digging ditches. After that week, he dropped the shovel, and signed up for college. He said he learned his lesson. But I do believe there are ways of hiring Mexican's legally. If American's have to use a pass port to get in and out of other country's, why shouldn't everyone have to do the same to get in and out of our country? And then to work, either have the right papers, or the employer gets fined. It really doesn't sound that hard. But if Obama does anything like that, he knows he will be voted out in 2012. But my questions still comes to... Why do illegal Mexican's get to vote anyway? They say some states make it to easy for them to vote. I know in Maryland they had made it so easy to get a driver licence's, that every illegal went there. Now they changed some of the rules, and made it harder. All I know is we better start getting something right in our country. The people are really getting tired of the waiting game.

February 11 2011 at 4:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Missouri's elite-owned mass media will assuredly make it a point to not inform the citizenry of the obvious increase of illegals hereabouts even though so MANY of our unemployed working-poor class has to compete directly with these unwanted invaders usurping the supply/demand law for jobs, affordable housing, social services, etc.

Stolen IDs and false IDs easily obtainable within the barrios at very low rates and the non-taceabilty inherent for the illegal invader horde ensures they can cause so much mayhem; along with the many crimes they commit FAR out of proportion to their actual numbers.

The typical nation-wide propaganda along with local brainwashing ensures that many locals uninformed of reality accept the invaders, painting them with a bright glow of political correctness, will assist the invaders in doing to Missouri what they did to my home state of California, that I was forced to flee in 1993.

Over the years I have witnessed an influx of illegals into the mid-west, including Nebraska.

Sadly, I thought I had left many problems I and others within my socio-economic cohort behind but the horde followed me.

There are no more refuges within the USA but that is what much of what corporate America and many of the USA's elite class desires..... even the elite's main figurehead lackey, Obama.

February 11 2011 at 2:16 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Wow I read a lot of these comments. American's are really pissed off about this problem. But no one in government has the balls to do anything about it.
People say they do jobs Americans would never do. Bullshit. When I was young I picked crops in the 60's, dug ditches and did the **** jobs. I paid taxes and took no government hand outs. So many people out of work would do these jobs. Look at young kids which only went to high school. They want to work to put some cash in thier pockets.
And one last thing. Years ago there were no Mexicans living in my neighbor hood,
Last week my 14 year old girl was walking home from school. I was waiting for her in front of my house. Several hispanic men were drinking beer hanging out next door. As she walked by they started whistling, and makeing comments in a sexual manor. I told them " hey she is only 14" They said that did not matter.
Scum bags.
Let's get rid of these bastards. I miss the old America.

February 11 2011 at 2:14 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sturmanboege's comment

same thing happened in my neighborhood....many of the houses look like slums now and I'm trapped because of real estate $$.

Much like you I did some really s___ jobs, particularily yo put myself through college. people will do them if thats the job they need to do

February 11 2011 at 3:32 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

Time for the Rednecks to clean up this problem. Can you say .45 cal

February 11 2011 at 1:41 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

If politicians really wanted to solve the illegal problem, all they have to do is pass a bill making it mandatory every employer use e-verify. For every person hired without e-verify documentation get's them a $5,000 fine. After "xx" offenses, a minimum of 60 days in jail per offense.

February 11 2011 at 12:45 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gpfs's comment

Quit calling them "unauthorized" or "undocumented." They are ILLEGAL, and
illegal means AGAINST OUR LAWS.

February 11 2011 at 12:00 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fshoe's comment

stable my ass... soon I will have to learn thier language. Or start beating the hell out of them when they talk, getting a complex. I hate to say it but I feel like a forgiener in my county !!!!!!

February 11 2011 at 11:49 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply