Number of illegal immigrants in US now declining

The number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. has dropped for the first time in 20 years as substantially fewer undocumented workers from Mexico, Latin America and elsewhere are crossing the border in search of jobs, an independent research group says.

The analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center suggests the nation’s economic downturn and increased border enforcement have reduced the number of illegal immigrants, who make up roughly 4 percent of the U.S. population.

The study released Wednesday estimates that 11.1 million illegal immigrants lived in the U.S. in 2009. That represents a decrease of roughly 1 million, or 8 percent, from a peak of 12 million in 2007, before Arizona intervened with its new enforcement measures.