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Pew: 63 Percent Of Illegal Immigrants In U.S. For More Than 10 Years

A Pew Hispanic Center study released today finds that two-thirds of undocumented immigrants in the United States have lived in the country for more than 10 years. The study also found that 46 percent of undocumented immigrants had minor children.

In its press release, Pew says this research is important because it comes on the heels of a hot debate on immigration during the Republican presidential debates.

Newt Gingrich, who has shot up in polls and become the frontrunner in the nomination race, made waves with his views on the issue during the Nov. 22 debate.

"If you've been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out," Gingrich said.

That's what this Pew study is trying to put numbers to. Here are more of Pew's findings:

-- "The rising share of unauthorized immigrants who have been in the U.S. for a long duration reflects the fact that the sharpest growth in this population occurred during the late 1990s and early 2000s—and that the inflow has slowed down significantly in recent years."

-- "35% of unauthorized adult immigrants have resided in the U.S. for 15 years or more; 28% for 10 to 14 years; 22% for 5 to 9 years; and 15% for less than five years."

-- A lot like the general U.S. population, nearly four in 10 undocumented immigrants attend religious services "weekly or more."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.