By Tim Hrenchir | Wednesday, 16 Sep 2015 01:45 PM

The Old Dominion may have gained a new popularity among illegal immigrants. Virginia was among seven U.S. states that saw an increase in illegal immigrant population between 2009 and 2012, the Pew Research Center said.

Estimating illegal immigration is difficult, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Still, the Pew Research Center, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federation for American Immigration Reform are among entities that undertake that endeavor. Homeland Security estimated the nationwide illegal alien population in 2012 at 11.4 million, down from 11.6 million in 2010,. The Homeland Security estimate is available for only the 10 states with the largest illegal alien populations, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Virginia wasn’t in Homeland Security's top 10 for 2012.

Estimates released by the Pew Research Center in November 2014 indicated Virginia’s unauthorized immigrant population had risen by 25,000 people — from 250,000 to 275,000 — from 2009 to 2012, a period when the unauthorized immigrant population fell in 14 states, rose in seven and otherwise remained stable. The release indicated the states thought to have seen increases in unauthorized immigrant population were New Jersey (by 75,000), Florida (by 55,000), Pennsylvania (by 30,000), Virginia and Maryland (by 25,000 each) and Idaho and Nebraska (by 10,000 each).

The Pew Research Center released estimates in December 2014 again placing Virginia’s estimated unauthorized immigrant population for 2012 at 275,000, left the Old Dominion as 10th among the nation’s states.

The Pew Research Center estimated that 160,000 illegal immigrants were part of Virginia’s labor force in 2010, comprising about 3.9 percent of the state's total labor force, according to Slate.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimated Virginia’s illegal alien population for 2010 at 260,000, according to its website. FAIR projected Virginia's illegal immigrant population would rise by 2050 to 11,389,000.