Most Americans say the number of immigrants entering the United States illegally is higher now than it was 10 years ago.
Most experts say they’re wrong.
In a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll, 55% of those surveyed say the numbers have increased and 27% say they are about same. Just 15% say they’re lower.
A sweeping immigration bill pending in the Senate would create a pathway to legal status for the estimated 11 million immigrants who are already in the USA illegally.
While it’s difficult to track the flow of illegal immigrants, the non-partisan, non-profit Pew Hispanic Center has calculated that the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. peaked in 2007 and declined through 2011, the last year for which data was analyzed. Over the past several years, migration from Mexico has declined significantly amid fewer economic opportunities in the U.S. and more economic opportunities at home.
In the immigration poll, people who live in states that border Mexico are less likely than those living elsewhere to say the rate has increased and more likely to say it has gone down. Hispanics nationwide also tend to make a more accurate assessment: 33% say the numbers have gone down, compared with 12% of non-Hispanics.
The poll of 1,512 adults was taken June 12-16. The margin of error is +/- 2.9 percentage points.