Most Undocumented Adults Have Been In U.S. For More Than A Decade


WASHINGTON -- A growing proportion of the undocumented immigrant population has been in the U.S. for more than a decade, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center, illuminating just how many people have long-standing ties to the country.

The report, released on Wednesday, estimates that there were 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. as of March 2013, the same figure as in 2009. The size of the undocumented population had been increasing for decades until the recession, and has remained stable since then.

Meanwhile, the unauthorized immigrants already here have become more rooted. As of 2013, the median time an undocumented adult had been living in the U.S. was 12.7 years -- up from previous years.

The length of time undocumented immigrants have been in the U.S. is particularly significant as the White House considers some type of executive action that could suspend deportations.

Although the exact plan and timeline have yet to be determined, advocates are hoping President Barack Obama will create a program that keeps those with significant ties to the U.S. -- including having had children here or lived here for years -- from being deported.

Should the relief be based on length of time in the U.S., a large number of undocumented immigrants could be eligible to apply. Pew estimates that 62 percent of the 10.4 million undocumented adults in 2012 had been in the U.S. for a decade or more, and 21 percent had been here for at least two decades.

Even if executive action applied only to parents who lived with their U.S.-born citizen children, it could have considerable impact. Pew estimates that 4 million undocumented adults in 2012 lived with their U.S.-born citizen children. Of those parents, 3 million had resided in the country for at least a decade.

The report found the number of undocumented children and teenagers has fallen since its peak in 2005 -- when there were more than 1.6 million undocumented immigrants under the age of 18 in the country -- to 775,000 in 2012.

The size of the overall undocumented population has remained steady since a high in 2007.

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