New estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center find that the “number of children born to at least one unauthorized-immigrant parent in 2009 was 350,000, essentially the same as it was a year earlier.” These children accounted for 8% of newborns in the U.S. from March 2009 to March 2010. But interestingly, only a fraction of the babies were born to parents who have recently arrived in the country — running counter to an argument made by conservatives who want to do away with birthright citizenship.
61% of new illegal immigrant parents arrived in the country before 2004 and 30% arrived from 2004 to 2007. Just 9% arrived from 2008 to 2010. Conservatives have raised the specter of “anchor babies” in their arguments against birthright citizenship. State Legislators for Legal Immigration, a group which advocates changing the interpretation of the 14th amendment, has claimed that “hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens are crossing U.S. borders to give birth and exploit their child as an ‘anchor baby.’” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has even claimed that some women come to the U.S. to have children with citizenship, only to raise them abroad and train them as terrorists.
Overall, the Pew Hispanic Center found the number of illegal immigrants living in the United States as of March 2010 was 11.2 million, practically unchanged from 11.1 million in 2009. The flat line follows two years of declines: the number peaked at 12 million in 2007, and was 11.6 million in 2008. The number of illegal immigrants in the workforce also held steady from 2009 to 2010.
The study found that the decrease in the overall number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. since 2007 appears to be tied to a fall in the number of Mexican illegal immigrants in the country. From 7 million in 2007, illegal immigrants from Mexico number 6.5 million today.
Since 2007, illegal immigrant populations have shrunk in Colorado, Florida, New York and Virginia — and Arizona, Nevada and Utah when counted together. During the same period, there has been a rise in the combined illegal immigrant population of Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
You can read the report here.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com