NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 16, 2009

The number of American citizen children who have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant has increased rapidly since 2003, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington.

Key findings:

  • About four million American children have at least one parent who lacks legal immigration status.
  • And 73 percent of all children of illegal immigrants are American citizens.
  • In 2003, 2.7 million American children had parents without legal status.

The increase stems from the relatively young age of the immigrants, who have children soon after they settle in the United States, Pew says:

  • Children of illegal immigrants are more than twice as likely to live with two parents than children of United States citizens.
  • In all, about 8.8 million people in the United States are in families that include parents who are illegal immigrants and children who are American citizens.
  • About three-quarters of the nation's illegal immigrants are Hispanic.

Pew found signs that the rapid upward mobility long associated with new immigrants had stalled for the current generation of illegal immigrants.

"In contrast to other immigrants," the report said, "undocumented immigrants do not attain markedly higher incomes the longer they live in the United States."

Source: Julia Preston, "Study Sees More Young Citizens With Parents in the U.S. Illegally," New York Times, April 15, 2009.

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