Paul Bedard

A congressional report says that 62 percent of the 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the United States come from Mexico

A new congressional report sure to stir up the heated immigration debate finds that about 1 in 4 foreigners in America are here illegally and that 62 percent of them come from Mexico through America's most porous border. Using brand new data, the Congressional Budget Office also reports that 25 percent of "noncitizens," or those here illegally or with temporary passes, live in poverty.

Overall, the CBO found that there are about 39 million foreign-born people living in the United States, making up more than 12 percent of the population, which is the largest since 1920, the height of the European migration to the United States. Of those, about 10.8 million are here illegally and the subject of much of the discussion in the immigration debate.

The CBO said that foreigners of all sorts gather in just a few states. For example, 1 in 4 people in California are foreign-born. In New York, it's 1 in 5.

The states with the highest numbers of illegals: California (2.6 million), Texas (1.7 million), Florida (700,000), and New York (600,000). Some 61 percent are aged 35-44.

From the CBO report, Director Douglas Elmendorf highlighted the following points on his blog:

-- In 2009, about 38 percent of foreign-born people in the United States were from Mexico or Central America; the next-largest group came from Asia and accounted for 27 percent of the total foreign-born population.

-- About one-fifth of naturalized U.S. citizens were from Mexico or Central America; more than one-third were from Asia. About half of the noncitizens living in the United States in 2009 were from Mexico or Central America, and about one-fifth were from Asia. An estimated 62 percent of noncitizens unauthorized to live in the United States were from Mexico.

-- From 2000 to 2009, more than 10 million people were granted legal permanent resident (LPR) status in the United States. Legal permanent residents are permitted to live, work, and study in the United States. Over the past two centuries, the main areas of origin of legal permanent residents in the United States have changed from primarily Europe and Canada to Asia, Mexico, and Central America.


-- In 2009, more than one in four people in California and more than one in five people in New York and New Jersey were born in another country. Conversely, in 31 states, fewer than one person in 20 was foreign-born. The foreign-born share of the population increased in all but three states between 1999 and 2009.

-- The four states with the highest concentrations of unauthorized residents in 2009 were Nevada, California, Texas, and Arizona. Almost half of all unauthorized residents of the United States were living in those states.

-- Compared with the native-born population, relatively few foreign-born people are under the age of 25. In 2009, only 15 percent of the foreign-born population was under that age, compared with 37 percent of the native-born population. In contrast, nearly three-quarters of the foreign-born population was of working age (between 25 and 64 years old), compared with about half of the native-born population.

-- Marriage and fertility rates are generally higher among young foreign-born women than among their native-born counterparts.

-- In 2009, 29 percent of the foreign-born population between the ages of 25 and 64 had not completed high school, compared with 8 percent of the native-born population. Some groups of foreign-born people, however, had more education than their native-born counterparts. About 55 percent of people from Asia had at least a bachelor's degree, as did 47 percent of people from Europe and Canada; just 32 percent of the native-born population had earned at least a bachelor's degree.


-- Foreign-born men are more likely to be working or looking for work (that is, to be in the labor force) than are native-born men. Foreign-born women, however, are less likely than native-born women to be in the labor force.

-- Workers from Mexico and Central America are concentrated in a different set of occupations than people from other regions of the world. In 2009, 21 percent of workers from that region were in construction, mining, agriculture, or related occupations, compared with 5 percent of native-born workers. Reflecting their high level of educational attainment, 39 percent of workers from Asia were in the professional or technical occupations, compared with 30 percent of native-born workers in those occupations.

-- The amount of annual earnings among foreign-born workers varied greatly by country of origin. For example, in 2009 the median annual earnings of male workers from Mexico and Central America was $22,000. Among male workers from Asia, the median was $48,000; among male workers from Europe and Canada, it was $53,000; and among native-born male workers, it was $45,000.

-- In 2009, 25 percent of noncitizens lived in poverty, compared with 11 percent of naturalized citizens and 14 percent of native-born people.


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Most Illegal Immigrants Come From Mexico