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Study Tallies Children Of Illegal Immigrants
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Study Tallies Children Of Illegal Immigrants

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Study Tallies Children Of Illegal Immigrants

Study Tallies Children Of Illegal Immigrants
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The Pew Hispanic Center reports that more children are being born to illegal immigrants in the U.S. than had been known. And the children are far more likely to live in poverty than those with American-born parents.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel. We begin this hour with a snapshot of the nearly 12 million people living in the U.S. illegally. It comes to us from the Pew Hispanic Center that estimates that of those nearly 12 million people, three quarters are Hispanic and that their growth has leveled off. As NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports, one group is growing, and faster than we thought, the children born to those illegal immigrants.

JENNIFER LUDDEN: The stereotype of an illegal immigrant may be the young single male, the image so many Americans see of day laborers on street corners, men who ventured north to work and often send money to families back home.

Mr. JEFFREY PASSEL (Demographer, Pew Hispanic Center): And it turns out the day laborer may have a wife and kids here.

LUDDEN: Pew demographer Jeffrey Passel found that 47 percent of the undocumented population live in families, making them twice as likely to do so as native-born Americans.

Mr. PASSEL: Basically it's a population where most of the adults are under 40, they are in couples and they have kids.

LUDDEN: And Passel says some three quarters of those kids are born here, making them U.S. citizens. He estimates there are four million such children. And their growing numbers have sparked concerns in some communities about the burden on public schools and social services. Researcher Passel says mixed status families complicate policymaking.

Mr. PASSEL: The policies tend to put people into separate little boxes for U.S. citizens, native-born legal immigrants, illegal immigrants. And you can do that with people, but it turns out not to be so easy to do that with families.

LUDDEN: Passel says as much as 10 percent of all births in the country every year are babies born to illegal immigrants.

Jennifer Ludden, NPR News, Washington.

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