Study finds fewer immigrants living illegally in Maryland

Some 5,000 fewer immigrants are living illegally in Maryland, a study finds

Fewer immigrants are living illegally in Maryland now than in 2010, their numbers declining by about 5,000 in that time, according to an analysis from the Center for Migration Studies of New York.

Nationwide in 2014, the number of immigrants living in the country illegally was the lowest in more than a decade, according to the study. The population declined by about 800,000, from 11.7 million in 2010 to 10.9 million in 2014, the study says.

Maryland saw a 2 percent decline from 2010 to an estimated 233,000 in 2014, the latest year in the study. That's roughly 4 percent of the state's population.

Such a decline in illegal immigration, which has been documented by previous studies, runs counter to the widespread image on the Republican presidential campaign trail of a rise in illegal border crossers.

And the declines come as Democrats, who also speak of an influx of immigrants living in the country illegally, push a number of policies aimed at helping them.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump has said illegal immigration rates are "beyond belief" and has claimed that immigrants bringing crime and disease are "just pouring across the border."

Trump has pledged mass deportations and a border wall, while criticizing as weak his more moderate rivals, including Jeb Bush, who has proposed giving immigrants already in the country a path to legal status.

Meanwhile, in Democratic-dominated Maryland, voters approved the Dream Act in 2012, which allows students who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

In 2014, Maryland joined a handful of states that issue so-called "second-tier" licenses, allowing immigrants who do not have full legal documentation to drive, register cars and obtain insurance. These licenses don't count as federal identification.

According to the report, the declines are driven in part by Mexican immigrants returning home.

Since 2010, the number of Mexicans living in the U.S. illegally declined by about 612,000, or 9 percent, the report says.

Despite the downward trend, a handful of states saw an increase from 2013 to 2014, including Florida, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maryland.

In the study, Maryland ranked 12th among states with the most unauthorized immigrants. California ranked first with about 2.6 million in 2014.

— Tim Prudente

Tribune newspapers contributed to this article.

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