About two thirds of the 10.2 million unauthorized adult immigrants who currently live in the U.S have lived here for at least 10 years, according to a report released early this month by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The Pew report (.pdf) adds that “nearly half are parents of minor children” and that “the characteristics of this population have become a source of renewed interest” after GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich endorsed a “proposal to create a path for unauthorized immigrants to gain legal status if they have lived in the country for a long period of time, have children in the U.S., pay taxes and belong to a church.”

Gingrich’s recent call for a humane path to immigration enforcement makes him the most recent conservative voice calling for solutions that encompass something more than the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Gingrich said, “I don’t see how the — the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century. And I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, ‘Let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship, but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.’”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has also said  “that Republicans would do better to tone down the overheated rhetoric and focus on a positive immigration reform agenda.”

The Pew Hispanic report adds that:

  • 35 percent of unauthorized adult immigrants have resided in the U.S. for 15 years or more,
  • 28 percent for 10 to 14 years,
  • 22 percent for five to nine years, and
  • 15 percent for less than five years.

The report also indicates that 46 percent “of unauthorized adult immigrants today—about 4.7 million people—are parents of minor children. By contrast, just 38% of legal immigrant adults and 29% of U.S.-born adults are parents of minor children.”

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