A recent poll conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center concludes that nearly two-thirds of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for over a decade, raising questions regarding the country's illegal immigration policy.
The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, based its findings on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's March 2010 Current Population Survey.
According to the results, 35 percent of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for over 15 years and 28 percent of immigrants for over ten years.
This jump differs greatly from statistics in 2000, when only 16 percent of unauthorized immigrants lived in the U.S. for over 15 years.
The family status of these immigrants shows that 46 percent of unauthorized immigrants are parents of minor children, indicating more generations of unauthorized immigrants to come.
The results pose important questions for the future of America's policies on unauthorized immigrants, could provide ample political fodder for the upcoming 2012 presidential elections.
Republican candidate Newt Gingrich calls for a "humane" stance on illegal immigration. At a recent Republican presidential debate, Gingrich argued that law-abiding unauthorized immigrants who have been in the U.S. for over 25 years with successive generations should be allowed to stay, as long as they pay taxes.
Critics argue that Gingrich's proposal encourages unauthorized immigration, and would cause current statistics to skyrocket even higher in the next few decades.
The increasing amount of unauthorized immigrants also raises pertinent questions regarding Alabama's controversial anti-immigration law, described by some as the strictest law in the entire country.
The law, known as the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, allows police to question and arrest suspected illegal immigrants. It also requires state identification for various business transactions, such as connecting running water to one's home or purchasing a car.
The law subsequently makes it impossible for an unauthorized immigrant to survive in the state of Alabama, critics argue.
The law has been classified as "the nation's most merciless" anti-immigration law, as stated in a rebuttal lawsuit filed by the state's Episcopal, Methodist, and Roman Catholic churches.
The Pew Hispanic Center's poll may cause voters to take a more conservative approach to unauthorized immigration, thus weakening the chances for presidential candidates with a more liberal policy.
Similarly, the results could strengthen the public's favor on such controversial laws as Alabama's HB 56.