Updated estimates on the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population were published here on Nov. 27, 2018.
About 250,000 babies were born to unauthorized immigrant parents in the United States in 2016, the latest year for which information is available, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. This represents a 36% decrease from a peak of about 390,000 in 2007. The analysis follows President Donald Trump's announcement that his administration may seek to end “birthright citizenship.”
The number of babies born to unauthorized immigrant parents represented about 6% of the 4.0 million total births in the U.S. in 2016, compared with 9% of all births in 2007.
Birthright citizenship derives from the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1868, which grants citizenship to anyone born in the U.S. The provision has long been interpreted to apply to U.S.-born children regardless of the immigration status of their parents.
While the Center's new analysis provides estimates about the number and share of U.S.-born babies with unauthorized immigrant parents, it's important to note that the legal status of immigrant parents can change over time. For example, parents who have legal permission to be in the U.S. at the time of their child's birth might later overstay their visas or otherwise become unauthorized. Similarly, parents who are unauthorized immigrants at the time of their child's birth might later become lawful immigrants and then naturalized citizens. (This analysis also slightly revises earlier estimates published by Pew Research Center.)
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey conducted in September 2017 found that around two-thirds of Americans (65%) said birthright citizenship should continue, compared with 30% who said it should end.
In a Pew Research Center survey conducted in summer 2015, prior to Trump's presidential campaign, six-in-ten Americans opposed the idea of changing the U.S. Constitution to prohibit children of those who are not legal residents from becoming citizens, while 37% supported the idea. Democrats opposed it by a three-to-one margin (75% vs. 23%), but Republicans were more split: About half (53%) favored amending the Constitution to end birthright citizenship while 44% opposed it. Among independents, 58% opposed changing the Constitution for this reason while 37% supported it.
Source: Published originally on pewresearch.org, Number of U.S.-born babies with unauthorized immigrant parents has fallen since 2007, by Jeffrey s. Passel, D'vera Cohn and john Gramlich, November 1st, 2018.