A majority of undocumented immigrants have lived in the US for 10 years or more, a new study by the Pew Hispanic Center says.
The study estimates that there are 10.2 million unauthorized immigrants living in the US, as of the 2010 census and Pew estimations.
Of these immigrants, about two-thirds have resided in the U.S. for more than 10 years. A third of the immigrants have lived in the U.S. for 15 years or more.
Nearly half of the immigrants are parents to minors.
As striking as the numbers are, the number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. has actually decreased since the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, according to the study.
The data come at a time when presidential candidates and immigration advocates are discussing whether to give amnesty to long-time undocumented immigrants. Front-runner GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich stated in the past that he would support a degree of amnesty.
As many as 3.5 million undocumented immigrants would receive amnesty with Gingrich’s plan, the study calculated.
“If you’ve been here for 25 years, and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we are going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out,” Gingrich said in last week’s debate.
Pew added a section to their overview addressing the religiousness of undocumented immigrants: 62 percent of Latino illegal immigrants attend church at least twice a month.
A majority of Americans agree with Gingrich that illegal immigrants should be granted citizenship – with conditions, the study stated. More than 70 percent of Americans believe that if immigrants pay fines, have jobs and pass background checks, they should be granted citizenship.
Arcela Nunez-Alvarez, research director at the National Latino Research Center at Cal State San Marcos, told the North County Times that many jobs are available to undocumented immigrants, which attracts them to the US in the first place.
"I wasn't too surprised because that's what we find consistently here (in North County)," she said. "The stereotype has been that people just came here in the last few years."