PHOENIX — About one out of every 15 children in the United States was born to a family where at least one parent is in this country illegally, according to a new report today.
And four out of five of them are “anchor babies,” the Pew Hispanic Center concluded.
The figures, which the organization calculated based on 2009 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, are the best estimates to date of the scope of the issue which has resulted in calls to amend the U.S. Constitution to deny automatic citizenship to children solely by virtue of their birth within this country.
That percentage of children of illegal immigrant parents might be increasing.
The overall figure is about 6.8 percent of all children 17 and younger have at least one illegal immigrant parent.
But the center calculated that about 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 were offspring of “unauthorized” immigrants. That computes out to 7.9 percent.
Researchers peg the number of illegal immigrants in the United States at something slightly in excess of 4 percent of the total population.
“But because they are relatively young and have high birth rates, their children make up a much larger share of the newborn population and the child population in this country,” the report says.
The 14th Amendment says that anyone born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of both this country and the state where they reside. Courts have interpreted that to entitle citizenship to those born in the United States regardless of whether one or both parents had no legal right to be here.
Some foes, including Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, argue those rulings are flawed.
He noted that the amendment makes its provisions conditional on the children being “subject to the jurisdiction” of this country. Pearce said courts, citing that language, concluded for years that did not entitle Native Americans to citizenship even though they were clearly born within the country’s borders.
It was only after Congress specifically altered the law regarding Indians that situation changed.