Thursday, July 07, 2005

Immigrant Births

BIRTHS TO IMMIGRANTS AT ALL-TIME HIGH Nearly 1/4 of New Mothers Are Foreign-Born, 1 in 10 an Illegal Alien WASHINGTON (July 7, 2005) -- A new analysis of birth records by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that in 2002 almost one in four births in the United States was to an immigrant mother (legal or illegal), the highest level in American history. In addition, nearly ten percent of all births in the country were to illegal-alien mothers.

This is important for at least two reasons: first, it is currently U.S. government policy to award American citizenship to all persons born on U.S. soil, even the children of tourists and illegal aliens. In addition, the number and share of children born to immigrants is now so large that it may overwhelm the assimilation process. The new report, “Births to Immigrants in America, 1970-2002,” by the Center’s Director of Research, Steven A. Camarota, is on line at
Among the findings:
* In 2002, 23 percent of all births in the United States were to immigrant mothers (legal or illegal), compared to 15 percent in 1990, 9 percent in 1980 and 6 percent in 1970.
* Even at the peak of the last great wave of immigration in 1910, the share of births to immigrant mothers did not reach the level of today. And after 1910 immigration was reduced, whereas current immigration continues at record levels, thus births to immigrants will continue to increase.
* Our best estimate is that 383,000, or 42 percent, of births to immigrants are to illegal alien mothers. Thus births to illegals now account for nearly 1 out of every 10 births in the United States.
* The large number of births to illegals shows that the longer illegal immigration is allowed to persist the harder it is to solve, because these U.S. citizen children can stay permanently, their citizenship can prevent a parent’s deportation, and once adults, they can sponsor their parents for permanent residence.
* The issue of births to illegals also shows that a “temporary” worker program would inevitably result in the permanent addition of hundreds of thousands of people to the U.S. population each year, exactly what such a program is supposed to avoid.
* The dramatic growth in births to immigrants has been accompanied by a significant decline in diversity. The top country for immigrant births C Mexico C increased from 24 percent of births to immigrants in 1970 to 45 percent in 2002. “Research shows that one of the biggest challenges immigrant-receiving countries face is the assimilation of the children of immigrants, who will have much higher expectations than their parents,” said Camarota. “With immigrants accounting for such a large, and growing, share of births, America is headed into uncharted territory. We simply don’t know how these children will assimilate -- but it is clear that the stakes for America are enormous.”
Among the new report’s other findings:
* In 2002, births to Hispanic immigrants accounted for 59 percent of all births to immigrant mothers. No single cultural/linguistic group has ever accounted for such a large share of births to immigrants. * Immigrant mothers are much less educated than native mothers. In 2002, 39 percent lacked a high school degree, compared to 17 percent of native-born mothers. And immigrants now account for 41 percent of all births to mothers without a high school degree.
* The states with the most dramatic increase in births to immigrants in the last decade are Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Nebraska, Arkansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Minnesota, Colorado, Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland.
* Immigrants account for such a large percentage of births because they have somewhat higher fertility and are more likely to be in their reproductive years than natives. Nevertheless, the differences with natives are not large enough to significantly affect the nation’s overall age structure.
* Immigrants who have arrived over the past two decades, plus all of their U.S.-born children, have only reduced the average age in the United States from 37 to 36 years.
* Looking at the working-age (15 to 64) share of the population also shows little effect from immigration. With or without post-1980 immigrants and all their U.S.-born children, 66 percent of the population is of working age.
* While immigration has little effect on the nation’s age structure, each year new immigration (legal and illegal), plus births to immigrants, adds at some 2.4 million people to America’s population, making for a much larger population and a more densely settled country. For further information about “Births to Immigrants in America 1970-2002,” contact the author, Steven Camarota, at (202) 466-8185 or # # # The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institute which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.

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