Nov 28, 2023 - News

Rate of undocumented immigrants stays steady in Arkansas

Data: Pew Research Center and Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Pew Research Center and Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Undocumented immigrants accounted for 2.3% of Arkansas' population as of 2021, per a new Pew Research Center analysis.

  • That's compared to the same percentage in 2019 and 2% in 2005.

Zoom out: There were 10.5 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. — or 3.2% of the population — as of 2021, per Pew.

  • That's up slightly from 2019 but down from a high of 12.2 million in 2007.

How it works: The estimates are based on census, immigration and refugee admission data; see more details on the Pew's methodology here.

Yes, but: Pew's estimates "do not reflect changes that have occurred since apprehensions and expulsions of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border started increasing in March 2021," the organization notes.

The big picture: The undocumented population in the U.S. is becoming more diverse, as Axios Latino's Russell Contreras reports.

  • An estimated 4.1 million Mexicans lived in the U.S. without authorization in 2021, accounting for 39% of the undocumented population — their lowest share in recent history.
  • Geopolitical conflicts, climate change and more sophisticated smuggling networks are driving more migrants from Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Asia, Europe and sub-Saharan Africa to make dangerous journeys to the U.S. despite few legal options for entry.

What they're saying: "There are more unauthorized Mexicans (migrants) going back to Mexico than coming," Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at Pew and author of the report, told Russell.

  • That decrease comes amid improved conditions and lower birth rates in Mexico, Passel added.

What we're watching: Immigration is expected to be a crucial issue in the 2024 presidential election, thanks in part to the surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

That's led to blowback against the Biden administration from both sides, and has fueled increasingly harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric.

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