Despite a decline in recent years, illegal immigration has been rising as the economy recovers from the Great Recession, according to a report from Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project.
The number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. peaked at 12.2 million in 2007 around the start of the financial crisis, falling to 11.3 million in 2009, breaking a decades-long rising trend. The report suggests that the immigration lull is the result from a weak economy and a decrease in Mexican immigrants.
According to the report, steady growth in illegal immigration was largely defined by larger numbers of incoming immigrants over those leaving the country. Mexico has historically attributed the largest percentage of immigrants entering the country illegally.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol apprehended roughly 1 million Mexicans annually when the number of immigrants entering the country illegally was on the rise. . However, apprehensions dropped to about 280,000 in 2011 after illegal immigration rates began steadily falling in 2007.
However, immigrants from other countries have picked up Mexico's slack. The number of illegal Mexican immigrants dropped from 6.9 million 6 million, while non-Mexican immigrants jumped from 5.3 million to 5.7 million during the same period.
Steven Camarota, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told the Arizona Republic that the increase illustrated in the report will make passing an immigration reform measure in Congress a more daunting task.
"It probably undermines the argument that illegal immigration is a thing of the past," he said.
The Senate passed a bill in June that would carve a path to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally, and dedicate $46 billion to secure the border. Efforts to push immigration reform in the House have stalled, due largely to ideological divide.
A bipartisan group of eight members assembled to tackle immigration reform in the House all but collapsed on Friday. The group originally consisting of four Republicans and four Democrats, was down to its last Republican member after Texas Reps. John Carter and Sam Johnson backed out, taking issue with the power their measure gave to the Obama administration to enforce immigration rules.
"The administration's practice of hand-picking what parts of laws they wish to enforce has irrevocably damaged our efforts of fixing our broken immigration system," Carter and Johnson said in a joint statement.
"If past actions are the best indicators of future behavior, we know that any measure depending on the president's enforcement will not be faithfully executed. It would be gravely irresponsible to further empower this administration by granting them additional authority or discretion with a new immigration system," they added.
Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador dropped out of the group in June, citing an impasse in which group members could not agree to ensure immigrants who entered the country illegally pay for their own health insurance.