April 14, 2009 / 3:40 PM / 10 years ago

Illegal migrants raise children in poverty: U.S. study

Day laborers swarm a potential employer in a parking lot in Falls Church, Virginia, June 27, 2007. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A growing number of illegal immigrants are having children in the United States and raising them in poverty, a study released on Tuesday showed.

Around 11.9 million mostly Hispanic illegal immigrants live and work in the United States, and Americans are sharply divided over what to do with them.

The survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, based in U.S. Census Bureau figures, found that the number of U.S. born children of unauthorized migrants grew to 4 million in 2008, up from 2.7 million five years earlier.

It found that a third of the children of unauthorized immigrants and a fifth of adult unauthorized immigrants live in poverty — nearly double the poverty rate for children of U.S.-born parents.

The study found that the median household income of unauthorized immigrants was $36,000 in 2007, well below the $50,000 median household income for U.S.-born residents.

President Barack Obama has pledged to push comprehensive immigration reform, including tougher border controls and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Last week White House officials said he planned to push for legislation as early as this year, according to news reports.

Reporting by Tim Gaynor, Editing by Sandra Maler

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