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Mexican immigrants on the decline

Published:Tuesday | April 24, 2012 | 12:00 AM

A study shows the number of Mexican immigrants living illegally in the United States has dropped significantly for the first time in decades. The figures represent a dramatic shift as many illegal workers, already in the US and seeing few job opportunities, are returning to Mexico.

The analysis of census data from the US and Mexican governments finds that roughly 6.1 million unauthorised Mexican immigrants were living in the U.S. last year. That is down from a peak of nearly seven million in 2007.

The Pew Hispanic Center report attributed much of the drop to a weak US economy, which has shrunk construction jobs attractive to Mexican workers. But increased deportations, heightened US patrols and violence along the border, as well as Mexico's declining birth rate, also have played roles.