While the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States has held relatively steady since the nation’s economic downturn, a new study found that adults are putting down roots in the country for longer than ever before in order to live with their U.S-born children.
In 2013 most undocumented immigrant adults opted to stay in the U.S. for nearly 13 years, up from a median of eight years seen a decade prior, according to a Pew Research Center study released Wednesday. Meanwhile, the decades-long rise in unauthorized immigration seen prior to the 2007 Great Recession has continued to level off, with 11.3 million immigrants living in the U.S. in 2013.
The estimates, based on U.S. Census data, provide a window into the potential impact that President Obama could have on the nation’s undocumented immigrant population through executive action. Among the range of options, the president is considering ways to extend relief from deportations to immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for a specified number of years and who have strong family ties to the country. Advocates argue that president has the power to shield millions of immigrants from fears of being torn from their families. Now they have a better idea of just how large that scope can be.
Pew estimates that as many as 4 million undocumented adults, or 38%, lived in the U.S. with their U.S.-born children in 2012. About three-quarters of those parents had lived in the country for a decade or more, Pew found.
Immigration groups are currently pressuring the president to take executive action amid reports that Obama would delay action on immigration issues in order to shield vulnerable Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections.
The flat-lined growth in unauthorized immigration in 2013, just slightly above the total 11.2 million undocumented immigrants the year before, also suggests that the three-year trend of surging growth of unaccompanied minors who are caught migrating from Central America has not had a dramatic impact on the total number of people currently living in the shadows.
According to Pew, there were 775,000 undocumented children from all countries living in the U.S. in 2012, down from its peak of more than 1.6 million minors seven years prior.