By Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center

Special to CNN

Americans now appear ready for a new approach to immigration policy. A CBS News survey last month found that three-quarters of the public favors “a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. if they met certain requirements including a waiting period, paying fines and back taxes, passing criminal background checks, and learning English.”

But even as the debate intensified the past week as hundreds of conservative leaders converged on Washington to press for broad immigration reform, the issue looks like it might be about to take another twist as the sharp decline in the U.S. population of unauthorized immigrants that accompanied the 2007-2009 recession bottoms out. Indeed, the number may be rising again.

As of March 2012, 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States, according to a preliminary Pew Research Center estimate based on U.S. government data.

Read more at CNN’s Global Public Square blog