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TribBlog: How Many U.S. "Anchor" Babies?

Of the 4.3 million babies born in the U.S. in 2008, 340,000 — about 8 percent — had parents who were undocumented immigrants, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

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A new study by the Pew Research Center is likely to fuel the latest fire started over immigration in Texas: the so-called “anchor baby” debate.

Of the 4.3 million babies born in the U.S. in 2008, 340,000 — about 8 percent — had parents who were undocumented immigrants. An estimated 700,000 babies were born last year to legal immigrants.

Although undocumented immigrants compose only about 4 percent of the country's population, researchers Paul Taylor and Jeffrey Passel say that “because [undocumented immigrants] are relatively young and have high birthrates, their children make up a much larger share of both the newborn population.” (Read the full Pew report here.)

Some conservative lawmakers have recently proposed a re-examination of the 14th Amendment, which grants automatic U.S. citizenship to people born on U.S. soil. Citing the results of a poll conducted earlier this summer, Pew reports that 56 percent of the public opposes a change to the U.S. Constitution, compared to 41 percent in favor. The same poll shows a majority back some sort of pathway to legal residency for undocumented immigrants. “Currently, 68% favor providing a way for illegal immigrants to gain legal citizenship if they pass background checks, pay fines and have a job," the report says. "That is up from 63% in April 2009 and 58% in December 2007.”

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