Photo: Undocumented Immigrants Live in U.S. 15 Years or More
Nearly two-thirds of the 10.2 million unauthorized adult immigrants in the United States have lived in this country for at least 10 years and nearly half are parents of minor children, according to new estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
These estimates are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s March 2010 Current Population Survey, augmented with the Center’s analysis of the demographic characteristics of the unauthorized immigrant population using a “residual estimation methodology”1 that the Center has employed for many years.
The characteristics of this population have become a source of renewed interest in the wake of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s recent endorsement of a proposal to create a path for unauthorized immigrants to gain legal status if they have lived in the country for a long period of time, have children in the U.S., pay taxes and belong to a church. Several of Gingrich’s opponents for the Republican presidential nomination have criticized the proposal as a form of amnesty that would encourage more immigrants to come to the U.S. illegally.
The Pew Hispanic analysis finds that 35% of unauthorized adult immigrants have resided in the U.S. for 15 years or more; 28% for 10 to 14 years; 22% for 5 to 9 years; and 15% for less than five years.
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.