President Barack Obama is said to be considering taking executive action to waive deportations for illegal immigrants who are the parents of U.S.-born children, thereby offering quasi-legal status to about 4 million people, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Students protest in June 2012, demanding that President Obama issue an executive order to stop deportations of illegal immigrant students. (Photo Credit: AP)

Students protest in June 2012, demanding that President Barack Obama issue an executive order to stop deportations of illegal immigrant students. (AP)

If it were to come to pass, that number could dwarf the number of illegal immigrants helped by Obama’s 2012 executive action, which deferred action for about 580,000 young illegal immigrants brought to the country by their parents as children, according to the Washington Post.

The new Pew numbers state that 60 percent of the estimated 11.3 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. have been in the country for more than a decade. In 2000, just 35 percent of those living in the country illegally had been in the U.S. for more than a decade.

Such numbers could speak to lack of enforcement over the last decade and a half, Roy Beck, president of the pro-border enforcement Numbers USA, told TheBlaze.

“The corporate lobbyists got the weak enforcement they demanded to help keep the labor market loose and to depress American wages,” he said.

The Pew estimate of 4 million people who came to the United States illegally and subsequently had children — legal U.S. citizens — is similar to an estimate by the Migration Policy Institute, which put the number at 3.5 million illegal immigrants who have had children in the United States.

“That potentially 4 million illegal aliens may be using their U.S.-born children as anchor babies to argue for them to take U.S. jobs and taxpayer benefits demonstrates the importance of stopping this birthright citizenship practice that is at odds with all but one of all the other industrialized countries in the world,” Beck said. ”Anchor baby” is a term used for children born to illegal immigrant parents inside the U.S., thus allowing a family to be connected to a newborn U.S. citizen.

Still, the Pew study said the number of illegal immigrants coming to the country – which had been continually rising in previous decades – has leveled off since the 2008 recession.

Obama initially implied he would take executive action on immigration by the end of the summer, but appears likely to wait until after the 2014 midterm elections. Other potential actions that he is said to be considering include providing relief from deportation to children protected by the deferred action program, and waiving deportations for illegal immigrants with no criminal records.

(H/T: Washington Post)