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How many children of illegal immigrants get 'birthright citizenship?' New report has answers

The number of children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents dropped to its lowest number since 2000 in 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

With President Donald Trump openly considering ending birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants, how many children actually benefit from the constitutional provision?

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, the number of children born to illegal immigrant parents has dropped to its lowest since 2000.

The report shows that about 250,000 children were born in the U.S. to undocumented parents in 2016, representing about 6 percent of all births in the country for that year.

That number peaked at about 390,000 in 2007.

How much 'birth tourism?'

The question about the merits of birthright citizenship is tied to perceptions of how much it drives illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America.

"We're the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits," Trump said to "Axios on HBO" in an interview released Tuesday. "It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And it has to end." (34 other countries actually also recognize birthright citizenship.)

Statistics from the Urban Institute indicate that birthright citizenship, while utilized by hundreds of thousands each year, is not usually the sole reason immigrants cross into the U.S. illegally.

About 70 percent of birthright citizens were born to parents who had been in the U.S. for at least five year, and another 20 percent to parents who had been in the country for more than 20 years, meaning a very small percentage of illegal immigrants are engaging in illegal "birth tourism."

"This is a very, very small minority of people," Randy Capps, director of research for U.S. programs at the Migration Policy Institute, told CBS News. "The large majority of children receiving birthright citizenship have parents who have been here for a substantial amount of time."

Still, Trump said he plans to sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has said he will introduce legislation with the same purpose, as the legality of such an executive order is disputed.

(H/T CBS News)

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