Migrants cross the Suchiate River that divides Mexico and Guatemala.

Rise in U.S. immigrants from Central America outpaces rest, study finds

Rise in U.S. immigrants from Central America outpaces rest, study finds

The number of U.S. Mexican immigrants decreased by 6%, from 2007 to 2015, according to a new survey of U.S. Census data by the Pew Research Center. Overall, the total U.S. immigrant population increased by 10% during those years.

Migrants cross the Suchiate River that divides Mexico and Guatemala.
Migrants cross the Suchiate River that divides Mexico and Guatemala.

The number of immigrants in the United States from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras rose by 25% from 2007 to 2015, while there were fewer Mexicans, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

Overall, the total U.S. immigrant population increased by 10% during those years, the survey found, while the number of U.S. Mexican immigrants decreased by 6%.

About 115,000 new immigrants arrived from the area of Central America known as the Northern Triangle in 2014, double the 60,000 who entered the U.S. three years earlier, according to the Pew Center analysis of U.S. Census data. Meanwhile, the number of new arrivals from Mexico declined slightly from 175,000 in 2011 to 165,000 in 2014.

“The 12 million Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. in 2015 far outnumbered those from the Northern Triangle, but the three Central American nations have grown in significance as a source of U.S. immigrants,” the study observed.

El Salvador had 1.4 million immigrants in the U.S. in 2015, while Guatemala had 980,000 U.S. immigrants and Honduras 630,000.
The majority (55%) of the three million Northern Triangle immigrants living in the U.S. as of 2015, were unauthorized, according to Pew Research Center estimates. By comparison, 24% of all U.S. immigrants were unauthorized immigrants.

However, more than 250,000 of the Northern Triangle immigrants have TPS, a federal program which is being phased out for several nations by the Trump administration.

Among the reasons cited by the report for the higher number of Central America is the high murder rate and gang-related crime, as well as the more typical attraction of economic opportunity in the United States.


In 2014, Honduras had the world’s highest murder rate: 74.6 homicides per 100,000 residents that year. El Salvador ranked second, with 64.2. Guatemala was ninth, at 31.2. In 2016, El Salvador overtook Honduras with 91.2 per 100,000 people. The Honduras rate dropped slightly to 59.1 and Guatemala’s was 23.7.

On Tuesday the Department of Homeland Security released statistics showing that the number of people caught trying to illegally cross the border from Mexico has fallen to the lowest level in 46 years.

During the government’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24 percent from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971.

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