Pew: Most Unauthorized Immigrants Have Lived In U.S. For More Than 10 Years


If "father and working man" Gabino Sanchez puts a face on illegal immigration, Pew Research Center provides some background about his cohort.

A report based on Census Bureau data and Pew Hispanic Center research finds that 63 percent of the estimated 10.2 million unauthorized adults in the United States have lived here for at least 10 years. The share of unauthorized immigrants who have been in the country for a long period is increasing, too:

The share that has been in the country at least 15 years has more than doubled since 2000, when about one-in-six (16%) unauthorized adult immigrants had lived here for that duration. By the same token, the share of unauthorized adult immigrants who have lived in the country for less than five years has fallen by half during this period—from 32% in 2000 to 15% in 2010.

The rising share of unauthorized immigrants who have been in the U.S. for a long duration reflects the fact that the sharpest growth in this population occurred during the late 1990s and early 2000s—and that the inflow has slowed down significantly in recent years, as the U.S. economy has sputtered and border enforcement has tightened. It also reflects the fact that relatively few long-duration unauthorized immigrants have returned to their countries of origin.

Pew also finds that almost half of the unauthorized adults in the U.S. have children who are minors—a much higher share than the 29 percent of native-born adults who have children. Pew attributes the disparity to the fact that much of the unauthorized immigrant population comprises relatively young, working-age people who are likely in their child-rearing years.

The report also notes that, based on Pew's polling, 72 percent of Americans favor a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants "if they pay fines, have jobs and pass background checks."

Read the entire report here.