New Study Shows Number of Babies Born to Undocumented Immigrants (and Tells Why Latinos Should Care)

The Pew Hispanic Center just released a new analytic report about Census Bureau data regarding immigration. The report includes stats on "unauthorized immigrants" and the significant population of children born to them.

In 2008, about 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born on US soil were born of unauthorized immigrant parents, according to the report. That's about 8% of all births in 2008, despite the fact that unauthorized immigrants are just over 4% of the US's adult population.

In a interview with the authors of the report, Jeffrey S. Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, cited three main causes of this discrepancy of percentages:

  1. Unauthorized immigrants tend to be younger than other demographic groups (in 2009 the median age of all US adults was 45.6 while that of unauthorized immigrants was 35.5) and thus in their childbearing years. Despite the fact that all immigrants accounted for 15.7% of the 2009 US population, immigrants in 2009 were "the parents of 23% of all children in this country ages 17 and younger."
  2. Unauthorized immigrants have higher fertility rates than other demographic groups. According to the report, "the total fertility rate among females ages 15 to 44 was 2.0 for the native born and 2.7 for immigrants" and 3.1 for foreign-born Hispanic in 2008.
  3. Unauthorized immigrants are more likely to foster child-raising environments: “Some 45% of unauthorized immigrants live with a spouse (or cohabiting partner) and child or children, compared with…21% of U.S.-born adults”


The study also found that nearly four-in-five (79%) of the 5.1 million (under 18 years old) children born of unauthorized immigrant parents were in fact born in the US. Because the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows birthright citizenship, or the automatic right to citizenship of people born on U.S. soil, these children are considered legal US citizens. There have been recent efforts by elected officials, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, to repeal this amendment, but the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found out in June that 56% of the public opposes that idea.

As Passel pointed out, about 75% of the undocumented immigrants are Hispanic, so the statistics regarding “unauthorized immigrants” are largely a concern of the Latin community.