Size and Characteristics of the Unauthorized Migrant Population in the U.S.

  • March 07, 2006
  • By Jeffrey S. Passel

Analysis of the March 2005 Current Population Survey shows that there were 11.1 million unauthorized migrants in the United States a year ago. Based on analysis of other data sources that offer indications of the pace of growth in the foreign-born population, the Center developed an estimate of 11.5 to 12 million for the unauthorized population as of March 2006.

In the March 2005 estimate, two-thirds (66 percent) of the unauthorized population had been in the country for ten years or less, and the largest share, 40 percent of the total or 4.4 million people had been in the country five years or less. There were 5.4 million adult males in the unauthorized population in 2005, accounting for 49 percent of the total. There were 3.9 million adult females accounting for 35 percent of the population. There were 1.8 million children who were unauthorized, 16 percent of the total. In addition, there were 3.1 million children who are U.S. citizens by birth living in families in which the head of the family or a spouse was unauthorized.

About 7.2 million unauthorized migrants were employed in March 2005, accounting for about 4.9 percent of the civilian labor force. They made up a large share of all workers in a few more detailed occupational categories, including 24 percent of all workers employed in farming occupations, 17 percent in cleaning, 14 percent in construction and 12 percent in food preparation.Size and Characteristics of the Unauthorized Migrant Population in the U.S.