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Undocumented immigrants are mainly long-term residents

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Many of the undocumented immigrants living in Maryland entered the United States more than 10 years ago. After the Great Recession began in 2008, fewer people entered the United States illegally or overstayed their visas. As a result, the population of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. is now made up of mostly long-term residents.

Information about the undocumented immigrant population in the U.S. was gathered by the Census Bureau and analyzed by Pew Research Center in a report that found that the undocumented immigrant population grew for two decades before peaking at 12.2 million in 2007. In 2008, the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. dropped, and the population has stabilized at approximately 11.1 million for six years straight.

Undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are still mainly Mexican citizens, though their numbers have dropped in recent years. Some of the reasons fewer Mexicans are immigrating to the U.S. are fewer jobs in the U.S., an improving economy in Mexico and Mexico's aging population. Undocumented African, Asian and Central American immigrant populations in the U.S. have been growing. Long-term residents, or people who have been in the U.S. for more than 10 years, now make up 66 percent of the undocumented immigrant population.

Immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for longer than 10 years may have strong ties to the United States that may allow them to qualify for deportation relief or naturalization. For example, a person who has married a U.S. citizen or had a child born in the U.S. may be able to become a citizen themselves. An immigration law attorney may be able to help undocumented immigrants to understand all of their options for staying in the U.S. permanently.

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