November 27, 2018

U.S. Unauthorized Immigrant Total Dips to Lowest Level in a Decade

3. Most unauthorized immigrants live with family members

Chart showing that among adult unauthorized immigrants, there has been a decline in men over the decade, especially younger ones.The unauthorized immigrant population in 2016 consisted of 5.5 million men, 4.5 million women and 675,000 children. The number of unauthorized immigrant adult men declined by about half a million since 2007, while the number of women did not change. The number of unauthorized immigrant children also declined by more than half.

The number of unauthorized immigrant men declined mainly because of a sharp decrease over the decade in those ages 18 to 44. The number of unauthorized immigrant women ages 18 to 44 also declined, but not as sharply. By contrast, this age group grew modestly from 2007 to 2016 among the U.S. born and lawful immigrants.

The number of unauthorized immigrants ages 45 and older grew, among both men and women, mainly because of population aging and not from new arrivals of older unauthorized immigrants.

The majority of all unauthorized immigrants (54%) were male in 2016, compared with about half of legal immigrants (47%) and the U.S. born (49%). Unauthorized immigrants are somewhat less likely to be male than in 2007 (57%).

Among adults, the unauthorized immigrant population is younger than other groups. Nearly two-thirds are ages 18 to 44, compared with four-in-ten legal immigrants and about a third of people born in the U.S. Only 1% of unauthorized immigrants are 65 or older, far lower than for other groups.

Line chart showing that most children living with unauthorized immigrant parents are born in the U.S.

Living arrangements and children

Most of the nation’s 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants live with members of their families, which in this report includes cohabiting partners. The rest either live by themselves (625,000) or in households with other people to whom they are not related (1.1 million).6

Unauthorized immigrants live in 5.2 million U.S. households that include a total of 20.2 million adults and children. Most of the 9.5 million other people who live with unauthorized immigrants are U.S.-born minor and adult children.

Line chart showing that there is a rise in U.S.-born adults living with their unauthorized immigrant parents.Reflecting their relatively young ages, unauthorized immigrants are more likely than other groups to head households with children. About four-in-ten households headed by an unauthorized immigrant, spouse or partner (43% in 2016) are two-parent households with children, higher than the shares for U.S.-born household heads (18%) or lawful immigrant heads (32%).

Unauthorized immigrant households also are increasingly likely to include U.S.-born adult children. The number of U.S.-born adult children living with their unauthorized immigrant parents has more than tripled since 2007, as minor children have grown up.

Line chart showing that a growing share of U.S. K-12 students have unauthorized immigrant parents.

More than 4 million K-12 students have unauthorized immigrant parents

Children of unauthorized immigrant parents constituted nearly 8% of students in kindergarten through 12th grade in 2016. Of those 4.1 million children, 3.5 million are U.S. citizens and the rest are unauthorized immigrants themselves.7

Chart showing the Nevada, Texas, California, Arizona and Colorado are the states with the largest share of K-12 students with unauthorized immigrant parents.The share of students with at least one parent who is an unauthorized immigrant varies widely from state to state. States with the highest shares include Nevada, where they were 20.2% of students in 2016; Texas, 13.3%; and California, 13.3%.

At the other extreme, these children make up fewer than 1% of students in Alaska, Maine, Montana, Vermont and West Virginia.

  1. Some of these households may include cohabiting partners, but they cannot be identified due to data limitations.
  2. A small number of unauthorized immigrant students, less than 50,000 or about 1%, do not live with their parents.