September 11, 2015

Number of babies born in U.S. to unauthorized immigrants declines

About 295,000 babies were born to unauthorized-immigrant parents in 2013, making up 8% of the 3.9 million U.S. births that year, according to a new, preliminary Pew Research Center estimate based on the latest available federal government data. This was a decline from a peak of 370,000 in 2007.

Annual U.S. Births to Unauthorized Immigrants, 1980-2013Births to unauthorized-immigrant parents rose sharply from 1980 to the mid-2000s, but dipped since then, echoing overall population trends for unauthorized immigrants. In 2007, an estimated 9% of all U.S. babies were born to unauthorized-immigrant parents, meaning that at least one parent was an unauthorized immigrant.

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1868, grants an automatic right of citizenship to anyone born in the United States. But in recent years, some politicians have called for repeal of birthright citizenship, including Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who says that so-called anchor babies are a magnet for illegal immigration.

A Pew Research survey in February 2011 found that a majority of Americans (57%) opposed changing the Constitution to end birthright citizenship, while 39% favored such a change. That same survey found that most Americans (87%) said they were aware of the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship.

Number and Share of U.S. Births to Unauthorized Immigrants, 1980-2013There were an estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in March 2013, according to a preliminary Pew Research estimate. They make up 4% of the population, but their share of births is higher because the immigrants include a higher share of women in their childbearing years and have higher birthrates than the U.S. population overall.

These estimates are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and American Community Survey, using the widely accepted “residual methodology” employed by Pew Research for many years.

Most children of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. are born here, and therefore are citizens. In 2012, there were 4.5 million U.S.-born children younger than 18 living with unauthorized-immigrant parents. There also were 775,000 children younger than 18 who were unauthorized immigrants themselves and lived with unauthorized-immigrant parents. These totals do not count U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants who do not live with their parents.

The nation’s unauthorized immigrants are more likely than in the past to be long-term residents of the U.S., and are increasingly likely to live with U.S.-born children. In 2012, there were 4 million unauthorized-immigrant adults who lived with their U.S.-born children, both minor and adult. They made up 38% of unauthorized immigrant adults. By comparison, in 2000, 2.1 million unauthorized-immigrant adults, or 30% of this group, lived with their U.S.-born children, minor and adult.

These new estimates, which include a 2008 estimate of 355,000 births to unauthorized-immigrant parents, differ slightly from a previous estimate for 2008 of 340,000 births to unauthorized parents, because they use different data sources and methodology.

Topics: Unauthorized Immigration, Race and Ethnicity, Population Trends, Hispanic/Latino Demographics

  1. Photo of Jeffrey S. Passel

    is a senior demographer at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of D’Vera Cohn

    is a senior writer/editor focusing on immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.


  1. Anonymous1 year ago

    I am just venting this out….I am sick of “the flint effect”. The European theory that people should not have more than 2 babies. I am sad that people in the U.S. do not realize that this nation was much better off when our grand and great grandparents had 10-16 children per family. I love working for REAL Human live organisms and not a stupid European theory that just makes the U.S. sad….Why in love with Margaret Sanger?…It is the love of sterilization and killing life in the womb as well as those who are living. Believing stupid European theories nor Margaret Sanger’s stupid eugenic ideas has done nothing for this nation, not will it ever. This is my opinion. Thank you.

  2. Israel2 years ago

    if the number of anchor babies being born in the USA is declining, then why do Hispanics think that Donald trump is a racist for wanting to end birthright citizenship?

  3. Dorothy Gilbert2 years ago

    Are there stats done on how many natural born citizens have married to foreigner’s? Such as the mail order kind in exchange for money? I know it has happened in the past.

  4. Awenshok2 years ago

    I find it strange that we can discover how many children were born to illegal immigrants but cannot know race or gender of the 700+ people shot to death by police this year.

    1. Significantly Insignificant2 years ago

      I find it strange that we can discover exactly how many Samoans do not have access to a battery-operated radio (2,651 in 2010, according to the U.S. census bureau), but cannot know how much foreigners’ elaborate multi-million dollar Medicare frauds are going to cost the taxpayer, how much we’re paying to incarcerate people who have no right to be here, or the cost in murder victims, rape survivors, drug cartels, ruined lives, stolen property, and neighborhoods decimated by gang violence.
      Here’s an idea: Instead of the Census Bureau collecting data on how many rental units have “broken or missing stair railings” (382,000 in 2010) or have had mold in their bathrooms in the last 12 months (1.1 million in 2010), how about the government tell us how many illegal immigrants have committed what type of crimes where and when, along with their names, always no more than a few Google searches away from you at any time?

  5. Steve Sailer2 years ago

    The 2010 study by Emilio A. Parrado of the University of Pennsylvania’s Population Studies Center, “How High is Hispanic/Mexican Fertility in the U.S.? Immigration and Tempo Considerations,” pointed out that fertility is exceptionally high among new immigrants from Latin America, and then it declines over the decades.…

  6. Rich Condit2 years ago

    When you say unauthorized do you mean illegal, is this just PC speak again!

  7. Joan94942 years ago

    Truly, this term ‘unauthorized immigrants’ makes me laugh. When did a criminal alien entering the country in a clandestine manner become ‘immigration’ ? An unauthorized immigrant is someone who has reported to the US Immigration Service and applied for a green card and is now awaiting review. Alternately, s/he is like my sister’s husband, who applied for a green card after they moved to the USA. This flagrant disregard for law-abiding immigrants is a continual insult.

    However, it’s heartening to know that the giant flood has diminished somewhat.

    1. Richard Simpkins2 years ago

      Clearly, they’re unauthorized. Are you claiming that they are somehow authorized?

    2. KJ Matthews2 years ago

      Perhaps you’d like to consult a dictionary before making such statements. Immigration refers to anyone moving from one country to another, usually permanently (as opposed to vacationing). It does not define their legal status. The words alien and immigrant are synonymous (except in sci-fi movies).

      Additionally, your brother-in-law is not an unauthorized immigrant. His reporting to immigration authorities and meeting their qualifications makes him an authorized immigrant. Other terms for your brother-in-law are authorized alien, legal alien, resident or non-resident alien or legal immigrant.

  8. Michael Porto Homer2 years ago

    Great, the Border Protection improvements finaly works. We need do more.

  9. Kelley Primo2 years ago

    Could we start with deporting Mr Trump to Mexico and go from there

    1. Richard Simpkins2 years ago

      To Scotland.

    2. Rich Condit2 years ago

      Perhaps you would like to consult your dictionary in regards to the term illegal, which has nothing to do with vacationing or “moving” it has everything to do with entering illegally and stealing from the country they have entered illegally. It is obvious from your retort of minutia that you are more concerned with wording that makes you feel better but distorts the facts which is what the progressives prefer!

    3. Rich Condit2 years ago

      Perhaps you would like to compare Mr. Trumps qualifications to be president as opposed to the existing occupier of the the White House!