Over the last few years, the United States' population of unauthorized immigrants has leveled out. Fewer immigrants are coming into the US illegally than a decade ago — because of some combination of a recession in the US, economic progress in Mexico, and tougher border enforcement. But the immigrants who are already in the US have been settling here and getting integrated into their communities.
New research from the Pew Hispanic Trends Project illustrates that most unauthorized immigrants have been in the US for over a decade. Furthermore, half of all unauthorized immigrants have been here for more than 12.5 years. Here are two charts that illustrate how the unauthorized immigrant population has settled in the US.
There are four times as many long-term as short-term unauthorized immigrants
For several years, Pew has been tracking the number of "long-term" unauthorized immigrants, who've been in the US for longer than ten years, and the number of "short-term" unauthorized immigrants, who've been in the US for less than five years.
In 2003, both groups were basically the same size. That's not the case anymore. In 2013, there were four times as many long-term unauthorized immigrants than short-term.
Half of all unauthorized immigrant adults have been in the US for around 13 years or more
Pew also tracks the median length of residence for unauthorized immigrants in the US. As unauthorized immigrants who entered the US years ago have settled, that median has increased. Now, half of all unauthorized immigrants have been in the US for more than 12.7 years — up from 7.4 years in 1995.
Many of these immigrants have also started families in the US. According to Pew, almost a third of all unauthorized immigrants (4 million people) are parents of US citizens. Despite the furor this summer over children and families entering from Central America, the underlying fact of the immigration debate remains: most unauthorized immigrants have lived in America for a long time, and it doesn't look like they're going to decide to "self-deport" anytime soon.