Income inequality in the United States has been rapidly growing over the past four decades. That fact is evident in the growing gap between average (mean) household income and median (mid-point) household income. The gap rose by 22 percentage points between 1970 and 2010, from 14.5 percent to 36.8 percent. The rapidly rising immigrant population — especially illegal immigrants — has contributed to this troubling social trend.

While legal immigration contributes to a shrinking middle class by disproportionately adding both high income and low-income earners, illegal immigration exacerbates income inequality by adding mostly low-wage earners and thereby, depressing wages for those workers. This is especially harmful to minorities — often immigrants themselves — that have larger shares of their populations living in poverty.

Click here to read FAIR’s latest report on the effects of immigration on U.S. income.