Four reasons why illegal immigration across the US-Mexico border has dropped

From 1970 to 2010, more than 10 million Mexicans migrated to the US. Now, after decades of rising numbers immigrating to the US, a new demographic trend is playing out: illegal immigration is waning.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a 2010 report that the number of immigrants residing unauthorized in the US, 62 percent of whom come from Mexico, has declined from a peak of 11.8 million in January of 2007 to 10.8 million in January of 2010. US Customs and Border Protection also released data showing that the number of those arrested trying to cross the border illegally is is down sharply – by 58 percent since fiscal year 2006.

The Pew Hispanic Center, using Mexican government data, estimates that the number of Mexicans annually leaving Mexico for the US declined by 60 percent from 2006 to 2010. Many dispute the reason why. Here are four factors that play a role.

By , Staff writer

Tougher US measures

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    Border police stand near the San Ysidro port of entry, linking Tijuana, Mexico, with San Diego, California.
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In the same period that arrests have gone down along the US-Mexico border, the number of agents placed there has doubled. The Obama administration is responsible for a historic number of deportations. Recent figures from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) show that nearly 400,000 individuals were deported between October 2010 and September 2011.

Some believe that tough state laws like those in Arizona and Alabama have also had a deterrent effect. Critics argue that tougher enforcement does not have a direct link to reduced migration flows. Still, a tougher US stance has had an indirect one: It has pushed up smuggler fees, making it too difficult for some migrants to pay.

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