Study Details Lives of Illegal Immigrants in U.S.

Areas of Origin

Where They Come From:

According to a new report from the Pew Hispanic Center, an estimated 10.3 million illegal immigrants lived in the United States as of March 2004. The majority are from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Source: Pew Hispanic Center hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Dispersal in the U.S.

Where They Live

In the past, the U.S. foreign-born population was highly concentrated. Since the '90s, the most rapid growth in the immigrant population -- both illegal and legal -- has occurred in areas where they were previously a relatively small presence. Source: Pew Hispanic Center hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Family Life

Families

An estimated 6.3 million illegal immigrant families lived in the United States in 2004. A significant share had "mixed status": One or more parent was illegal, while one or more child was a U.S. citizen by birth. Source: Pew Hispanic Center hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Pew Hispanic Center

More than 10 million illegal immigrants are thought to live in the United States. The overwhelming majority are Hispanic; most are from Mexico. A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center examines where and how these undocumented immigrants live and work.

Among the key findings:

— Most illegal immigrants live in families where the adults are undocumented, but the children are U.S.-born. An estimated 13.9 million people — including 4.7 million children — live in families in which the head of household or the spouse is an unauthorized immigrant.

— Illegal immigrants continue to outpace the number of legal immigrants — a trend that's held steady since the 1990s. While the undocumented continue to concentrate in places with existing large communities of Hispanics, they are also increasingly settling throughout the rest of the country.

— Among the U.S. states experiencing the greatest growth in illegal immigrant population are Arizona, North Carolina, Utah, Colorado and Idaho — places not traditionally considered centers of illegal immigrant communities.

— Illegal immigrants arriving in recent years tend to have more education than those who've been in the country a decade or more. A quarter has at least some college education. Nonetheless, undocumented immigrants as a group are less educated than other sections of the U.S. population: 49 percent haven't completed high school, compared with 9 percent of native-born Americans and 25 percent of legal immigrants.

— Illegal immigrants can be found working in many sectors of the U.S. economy. About 3 percent work in agriculture; 33 percent have jobs in service industries; and substantial numbers can be found in construction and related occupations (16 percent) and in production, installation and repair (17 percent).

— Illegal immigrants have lower incomes than both legal immigrants and native-born Americans, but earnings do increase somewhat the longer an individual is in the country.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.