As election season ramps up with immigration reform a hot topic, recent data from the Pew Research Center showed that the number of people from Mexico caught attempting to cross the border illegally to the United States was dropping nationwide. The number of apprehensions was typically a good barometer of the total number of people coming to the U.S.
Last year was the first on record in which there were more non-Mexicans apprehended at the border than Mexicans. In the fiscal year 2014, Pew reported that 229,178 Mexicans were arrested at the border, down from a peak of about 1.6 million in 2000. "The decline in apprehensions reflects the decrease in number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S.,” the report stated.
While illegal immigration from Mexico might be dropping, unauthorized immigrants from Mexico still make up more than three-quarters of the undocumented immigrant population in 10 states: New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oregon and Texas. On the whole, unauthorized immigrants from Mexico still make up more than half the unauthorized immigrant population, according to data from 2012, Pew reported.
For border states like Arizona, where the immigration debate has reached a particular fervor, the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico entering the state was dropping in line with the nationwide figures. Arizona Public Media reported that officials with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the Tucson sector said the agency has apprehended 38,727 Mexican nationals in the past nine months, which is a 31 percent decline for the same period last year.
The drop in illegal immigration from Mexico comes at a time when the immigration reform debate is a frequent topic in the political arena. President Barack Obama has proposed measures to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation, which many Republican leaders have opposed. Deportations have increased as border apprehensions have dropped, with a record high 314,904 undocumented Mexicans deported in 2013.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump set off a public firestorm after he made controversial comments about Mexican immigrants in his speech announcing his campaign. "When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best," Trump said. "They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
A number of companies and people dropped ties with the real estate mogul and reality television star following the comments, including Univision and NBCUniversal.