Estimates of the Size and Characteristics of the Undocumented Population

  • March 21, 2005
In a report titled "Estimates of the Size and Characteristics of the Undocumented Population," the Pew Hispanic Center has published estimates for the size and key characteristics of the population of foreign-born persons living in the United States without proper authorization using data from the March 2004 Current Population Survey which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Labor. Major findings include:
  • Following several years of steady growth, the number of undocumented residents reached an estimated 10.3 million in March 2004 with undocumented Mexicans numbering 5.9 million or 57 percent of the total.
  • As of March 2005, the undocumented population has reached nearly 11 million including more than 6 million Mexicans, assuming the same rate of growth as in recent years.
  • About 80 to 85 percent of the migration from Mexico in recent years has been undocumented.
  • Since the mid-1990s, the most rapid growth in the number of undocumented migrants has been in states that previously had relatively small foreign-born populations. As a result, Arizona and North Carolina are now among the states with largest numbers of undocumented migrants.
  • Although most undocumented migrants are young adults, there is also a sizeable childhood population. About one-sixth of the population—some 1.7 million people— is under 18 years of age.