LOS ANGELES (CBS) — For the first time in over 20 years, the number of people illegally entering the U.S. from Mexico has plummeted.

KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports researchers are crediting several factors for the historic drop.

A report by the Pew Hispanic Center released this week showed about 6.1 million illegal immigrants from Mexico are living in the States — down nearly 1 million people from 2007.

While the number of authorized Mexican immigrants rose modestly by about 200,000 between 2007 and 2011, the report found nearly 58 percent of all illegal immigrants living in the U.S. are Mexican.

The next largest country of origin for U.S. immigrants is China, which accounts for 5 percent of nearly 40 million immigrants in the U.S.

D’Vera Cohn with the Pew Hispanic Center said while the lack of jobs may be a big factor, there are other elements fueling the trend.

“It’s not just the economy, it’s also maybe the border enforcement has gotten tighter, there have been increases in deportations, and conditions in Mexico may have gotten better,” said Cohn.

The report also noted that while apprehensions at the border have decreased, deportations of illegal immigrants have risen to record levels, with nearly 400,000 deported in 2010 alone — 73 percent of whom came from Mexico.

Cohn said immigrants are faced with fewer options now that “crossing the border has become more dangerous when you’re doing it illegally”.

Although no nation has sent as many immigrants to the U.S. as Mexico, more repatriated Mexicans are planning on staying in their native land: as many as 20 percent of labor migrants in 201 said they have no plans to return, compared with 7 percent in 2005.

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