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Most Unauthorized Immigrants In U.S. Are Long-term Residents

Of the estimated 10.2 million adult unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S., 6.4 million of them have resided here since at least 2000, according to a new study from the Pew Hispanic Center.

While the percentage of long-term, unauthorized immigrants in the country has grown, the percentage of new arrivals — those who have lived here for less than five years — has fallen by half since 2000, to just 15 percent, according to the study.

“The number of immigrants arriving in the U.S., particularly from Mexico, has actually dropped over the last few years,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center.

He says the drop is likely due to decreased job opportunities and, possibly, increased enforcement along the border.

The Pew report comes on the heels of a feisty debate over immigration reform among Republican presidential candidates. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was rebuked for saying he supports a path to legalization for unauthorized immigrants who have been in the country for a long time and have family and community ties.

The Pew study was based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s March 2010 Current Population Survey, and a survey conducted last year by the Pew Hispanic Center.

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