How Many Are Here Illegally?

An estimated 11.9 million undocumented immigrants lived in the United States in 2008 but the number of people in this country illegally, which grew rapidly from 1990 to 2006, has since stabilized.

That’s according to a report issued Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C.

California still leads the nation with the largest population of undocumented immigrants with 2.7 million but our share fell from 42 percent in 1990 to 22 percent in 2008.

Using March 2008 data collected by the Census Bureau, the report found 8.3 million undocumented immigrants have jobs in the U.S., making up 5.4 percent of our country’s workforce.

Two-thirds work in jobs on the lower-wage rungs of the services, construction, production and repair industries. Only 31 percent of U.S.-born workers fill these same jobs, the report found. In fact, the 2007 media household income of unauthorized immigrants was $36,000, well below the $50,000 media household income for U.S.-born residents.

"What is striking about this population is it is a population made up of young families," Jeffrey Passel, Pew senior demographer and the report's co-author told the Sacramento Bee.

The Center, analyzing this group for the first time, estimates that 6.8 percent of K-12 students have at least one parent who was undocumented in 2008, according to the study’s authors.

The number of U.S.-born children with at least one undocumented parent jumped from an estimated 2.7 million in 2003 to 4 million in 2008.


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Passel's research found that Nevada and Arizona may surpass California in percentages of schoolchildren who are undocumented or have an undocumented parent – 17 percent and 15 percent, respectively, according to the Bee’s report.

As for insurance, the study found more than half of adult undocumented immigrants had no health insurance in 2007. Among the children born in the U.S., 25 percent were uninsured.

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