Texas Is Only State Where Illegal Immigration Isn't Dropping, Report Says

Back when he was trying to become president, Rick Perry was ridiculed by Mitt Romney for Texas' growing population of illegal immigrants. Romney had said in a debate that while California and Florida had "no increase in illegal immigration, Texas has had 60 percent increase in illegal immigrants."

Turns out, Romney was onto something. New statistics suggest that Texas' population of people in the country illegally has continued to increase, even as other states saw a slowdown.

New data compiled by Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project shows the population of people in the country illegally in the United States peaked back in 2007 at 12.2 million before dipping to 11.3 million in 2009.

Of the six states in which 60 percent of illegal immigrants live -- California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas -- only Texas has seen an uptick, albeit not a huge one.Texas had about 1.6 million immigrants in 2009 and 2010, and then 1.7 million in 2011.

What does it all mean? Pew's researchers point out the obvious, that the dates of the immigration slowdown correspond to the economic slump in the U.S.

Yet Texas' illegal population didn't see any declines in the past decade, which the Associated Press attributes to the state's strong economy. Also boosting Texas' immigrant population is its convenient location for Central Americans.

Texas may not be an anomaly for much longer. Despite a record 400,000 deportations in the U.S. each year, the data also suggests that illegal immigration has picked up again in the US since 2009. Pew researchers estimate that there are currently 11.7 million people in this country illegally, not quite at 2007's numbers, but a slight increase since last year.

They say that beefing up security at the border doesn't seem to be working. "We can say that the current enforcement practices have not led to any measurable reduction beyond the 2009 period," Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer at Pew's Hispanic Trends Project, told The New York Times.

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Amy Martyn
Contact: Amy Martyn