Study: 8% of kids in U.S. in 2008 were born to at least one undocumented parent

The Pew Hispanic Research Center is taking a ground-breaking look at the number of babies born in the U.S. to at least one undocumented parent.

It shows about eight percent of the children born in 2008, or about 340,000 births of nearly 4.5 million, were to at least one undocumented parent. Most of them are Latino.

Age is a major factor in the birth rate.

While the average American adult is about 46-years-old, lead demographer Jeffrey Passel says half of the adult undocumented population is under 35.

“They’re more likely to be married than the overall population," Passel said. "Part of it is because they’re younger, but even so they’re more likely to be married. And they have somewhat higher fertility.”

The estimate is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's March 2009 Current Population Survey. Researchers also analyzed the characteristics of unauthorized immigrants: Age, marital status and work habits.

“It’s also shows how complex the situation will be if the U-S Congress changes the 14th Amendment and stops automatic citizenship," says Cynthia Buiza with the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. “You have children born to mixed-status families.”

Eliminating that child’s right to invent himself is an assault on the American Dream, says Mark Rosenbaum with the A-C-L-U Southern California. Rosenbaum says freedom was central to the framers’ debate as they hashed out the 14th Amendment after the Civil War.

“What the union was about," says Rosenbaum was making sure that we would all be judged by who we were and not who our parents are.”

Some Republicans in Congress are calling for hearings on the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship to all born in the US. A Pew Research Center survey in June found that nearly 60 percent of those interviewed were against changes to the 14th Amendment.

The report also shows most undocumented adults are Latino.

The study estimates 75 percent of the undocumented adult immigrant population is Latino.

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