Study Finds Illegal Immigrant Population Mostly Made Up of Young Families


A new detailed, up-to-date, study has discovered the illegal immigrant population is largely comprised of young families with children, and that this demographic is the fatest-growing within that population.

The Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan organization, released the study yesterday. It also found that a disproportionate number of immigrant children live in poverty and do not have health insurance.

It is the law that any child born in the United States is a citizen. The “mixed-status” family—wherein the parents are immigrants, but the child or children maintain citizenship and its rights—is not a new concept, but the increasing number of children born to immigrant parents is sure to complicate and speed up the debate over immigration policies.

In the recent months, Congress members who support legalizing unauthorized immigrants have highlighted the dilemma of the U.S.-born children across the country in public events. The legalization could also increase feelings of anxieties among Americans, however, because the demands on school and social services will rise.

The data concluded that the unprecedented increase in illegal immigration will be felt in the upcoming years, based on the past three decades. The immigration population has seemed to level out since 2006 at about 10.4 million adults and 1.5 million foreign-born children. But the number of children born in the United States from illegal immigrants increased to 4 million in 2008 from 2.7 million in 2003.

Jeffery S. Passel, co-author of the study, said the result is “a different picture than what we usually see of undocumented immigrants. We usually see the young male day laborers on street corners. But only a fourth of undocumented immigrants are men who are here by themselves without spouses or children. This is a population that is largely made up of young families.”

Passel added that this “complicates greatly the difficulty of coming up with policies to deal with this population. . . . While we may be able to fit people into boxes of ‘undocumented,’ ‘legal,’ ‘legal temporary,’ and ‘U.S. citizens,’ it’s not so easy to fit families into that same set of little boxes.”

Immigrant population in the states that have historically housed the most immigrants—New York, Texas, New Jersey, Florida—has slowed, while populations in such states as Georgia and North Carolina is increasing.


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