Some 11.2 million illegal immigrants lived in the United States in 2010, virtually the same as a year earlier and holding steady after peaking at 12 million in 2007, according to a new report from the Pew Hispanic Center
The numbers remained stuck at just over 11 million despite the slow economic recovery, high unemployment and stepped up deportations by the Obama administration. States such as Arizona have also taken harder stands against undocumented workers.
Pew said its study, based on Census data augmented by the Center's analysis, was not designed to answer why the illegal immigration population stayed steady over the past two years. Illegal immigrants made up 3.7 percent of the nation's population last year and 5.2 percent of the workforce, the report said.
More than half of the people in the country illegally -- about 6.5 million -- were from Mexico, the report said. That's down from 7 million in 2007. Four states, Colorado, Florida, New York and Virginia saw decreases in the number of illlegal immigrants between 2007 and 2010.
The report comes at a time when the immigration debate has all but fallen silent on Capitol Hill. President Obama touched briefly on immigration reform in his State of the Union
speech, calling for passage of the DREAM Act
, which would put the grown children of immigrants on a path to U.S. citizenship if they complete two years of college or two years in the military.
Reform of the nation's immigration laws is not an issue ranking high with many Americans when they're asked about priorities for the government. But the debate is still contentious, with some lawmakers pushing for intensfied crackdowns along the southern border.
A Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health poll
, taken between Jan. 4 and Jan. 14, found immigration a distant fourth in terms of its importance to the general public, trailing health care, the economy and the federal budget deficit.