8% of US Kids Born to Illegal Immigrants

August 12, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Government & Politics | Hispanic | Youth & Gen X

An estimated 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 were the offspring of unauthorized immigrants, according to [pdf] a new analysis of US Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.

Illegal Immigrants’ Children Represent Larger Population Share than Adults
Pew analysis finds that unauthorized immigrants comprise slightly more than 4% of the adult population of the US, but because they are relatively young and have high birthrates, their children make up a much larger share of both the newborn population (8%) and the child population (7% of those younger than age 18) in this country.


Most Children of Illegal Immigrants are Citizens
The new Pew Hispanic analysis finds that nearly four-in-five (79%) of the 5.1 million children (younger than age 18) of unauthorized immigrants were born in this country, and therefore are US citizens. In total, 4 million US-born children of unauthorized immigrant parents resided in this country in 2009, alongside 1.1 million foreign-born children of unauthorized immigrant parents.



Illegal Immigrants More Likely to Live in Traditional Household
Unauthorized immigrants are much more likely than either legal immigrants or native-born adults to live in a household with a spouse and a child or children.

According to Pew Hispanic estimates, some 45% of unauthorized immigrants live with a spouse (or cohabiting partner) and child or children, compared with 34% of legal immigrant adults and 21% of U.S.-born adults. Here again, the chief reasons are that unauthorized immigrants tend to be younger and have higher rates of fertility than other adults.

One byproduct of these demographic patterns is that a substantial share of the undocumented population of this country lives in a so-called mixed-status family; that is, a family with at least one unauthorized immigrant parent and at least one US citizen child.

Children Congregated in Western, Southern US Metro Areas
Metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of residents younger than 18 (regardless of immigration/citizenship status) are disproportionately located in the Western and Southern US, according to data from The Urban Institute MetroTrends.

A look at national map of US metropolitan areas shows that the share of children is distributed extremely unevenly in different geographic areas. No metropolitan area on the Atlantic seaboard has a metropolitan area with more than 27% residents younger than 18, and most have 23.1% or less of their population represented by this age demographic.

Conversely, while the Western and Southern US have fewer metropolitan areas than the Eastern US, many of them feature a share of residents younger than 18 in excess of 29%. These areas are clustered in California and Texas, with Salt Lake City, UT also containing one. In addition, the Western and Southern US feature more metropolitan areas where 27.1-29% of residents are younger than 18, with California and Texas again accounting for the majority.

About the Data: The data presented in this report on unauthorized and legal immigrants were developed through a multistage estimation process, principally using March supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly survey of about 55,000 households conducted jointly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau; the sample is expanded to about 80,000 households for the March supplement.

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