Since the recession hit, illegal immigration has declined precipitously across the country, according to a new report published by the Pew Hispanic Center. Here in Illinois, however, the rate of undocumented immigration has remained stable. In 2009, Illinois was home to 525,000 undocumented immigrants, about five percent of the national total.
Demographers attribute Illinois' stability to the large percentage of families who settle here. Those households have been in the country longer and are less likely to fall victim to the federal government's heightened enforcement techniques or leave their neighborhoods if the economy dips. That trend should also inform the state's public policy; while it would be ideal if everyone in Illinois had papers, the reality of the situation is that a sizeable portion of the state's population is undocumented and not moving anytime soon. That means it's important for elected officials to continue advocating for comprehensive immigration at the federal level while keeping in place Illinois' strong protections for immigrants of every legal status. Read our post here for some background on the two gubernatorial candidates' immigration views.