Undocumented immigrants are more likely than either legal immigrants or adults born in the United States to live in a household with a spouse and a child or children, the Pew Hispanic Center says in a report today. One of the reasons for the high likelihood of the undocumented to have children is that they tend to be young and have high fertility rates. The median age of undocumented immigrants is 35.5, compared with 45.9 percent for legal immigrants and 46.3 percent for all U.S.-born adults, according to the report.
An estimated 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 were the offspring of undocumented immigrants, the report says. The nation has 5.2 million children who have at least one undocumented parent. Nearly four in five of them were born in the United States and thus are U.S. citizens, according to the report.
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives an automatic right to citizenship to anyone born in this country. The report notes that a few politicians have called for a repeal of that right recently, arguing that it causes undocumented immigrants to move to the United States. The Federation for American Immigration Form, a Washington-based group that opposes illegal immigration, calls the children of undocumented immigrants who were born in the United States “anchor babies.”
An Arizona state senator, Russell Pearce, has said he plans to introduce legislation in his state that would deny birth certificates to children of undocumented immigrants who are born in the United States, Politico reported this month. He has vowed as well to introduce a bill that would require undocumented immigrants to pay for their children’s schooling. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1982, Plyler v. Doe, guaranteed that children were entitled to a free K-12 education in this country, regardless of their immigration status.
The Pew Hispanic Center makes a point of saying the report “does not address the merits of the birthright citizenship debate.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.