WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- The tough economy has resulted in fewer illegal immigrants making their way into the United States looking for work, Homeland Security officials say.
Department of Homeland Security officials said that for the first time in at least four years, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States fell, USA Today reported Tuesday. Official figures indicated that 11.6 million illegal immigrants were residing in the country, down from 11.8 million a year ago.
There were 4 million illegals in the United States in 1990, federal agencies and researchers say.
Homeland Security spokesman Mike Keegan told USA Today that soaring unemployment has discouraged some people trying to sneak across the border, adding that the department is also doing a better job at stopping people from entering illegally and in apprehending the immigrants once they're inside the country.
The recent growth in illegal immigration has been largely driven by Mexicans, who account for 61 percent of all illegal U.S. residents, the Homeland Security report indicates.