Study says Utah now is home to 110K undocumented immigrants, up by 10K in last decade

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) A large crowd gathers at the Utah Capitol, June 30, 2018, to protest the Trump administration's immigration policies that have led to the separation of migrant families. More than 750 locations around the country planned to participate in the 'Families Belong Together' event, including at the nation's capital.

A new study estimates that the number of unauthorized immigrants in Utah grew to a total of 110,000 over the past 10 years, up by 10,000 in that time.

However, the Pew Research Center study says that estimate is accurate only within 10,000 people, plus or minus. So it says the estimated increase is not statistically significant.

Such a large number — about the equivalent of the population of Provo — could have an effect on the accuracy of next year’s once-a-decade census because of a proposal by the Trump administration to include a question about whether respondents are U.S. citizens.

Utah Latino leaders say many undocumented immigrants worry that answering that question could eventually lead to their deportation.

Census Bureau officials stress they are banned by law from sharing data about individuals with immigration officials or anyone else. During World War II, however, Congress temporarily altered laws to allow using Census data to help put Japanese Americans in concentration camps — and some worry it could happen again amid Trump’s anti-illegal immigration rhetoric.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on whether to allow the citizenship question.

If Utah residents are undercounted, it could slash the amount of federal money that the state receives through population-based formulas.

The new study says the overall population of unauthorized immigrants statistically did not change in 2017. The population in 2016 and 2017 of about 10.5 million was the lowest since 2004.

Between 2007 and 2017, five states saw statistically significant increases in their unauthorized immigrant populations: Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Those with declines included five of the six states with the largest unauthorized immigrant populations: California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York (but not Texas, which had no statistically significant change). The other states with fewer unauthorized immigrants were Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon.

The study says that for the first time in a half-century, Mexicans no longer are a majority among unauthorized immigrants living in the United States.

It estimates that 4.9 million are from Mexico and 5.6 million are from other countries. Other areas with the highest increases are Central America and Asia.

The number of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico declined because more left the United States than arrived. Their number has fallen by 2 million since its peak of 6.9 million in 2007 and was lower in 2017 than in any year since 2001.

The study said the drop in unauthorized immigrants from Mexico and a rise from other parts of the world is one sign of a change in how they enter the country.

A growing share do not cross the border illegally but probably arrive with legal visas and overstay their required departure date. The study says those “likely overstays” have made up a large majority of unauthorized immigrant arrivals since 2010.

The study estimates the number of unauthorized immigrants by using Census Bureau estimates of all immigrants, and then subtracting the number of legal immigrants reported by immigration authorities.