Greg Abbott Backs Immigrant School Policy That Helped Turn California Blue

Of note, political virtue signalling for the right, with risks of possible backlash. Proposal is intrinsically deplorable:

In 2001, then-Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, signed what was known as the Texas DREAM Act, providing in-state tuition rates to young undocumented students as long as they were state residents for three years, graduated from a Texas high school, and promised to apply for permanent residency.

Two decades later, immigration politics in Texas have been completely transformed. Governor Greg Abbott is now calling for the Supreme Courtto strike down the 1982 Plyler v. Doe ruling that forces states to pay for the education of undocumented children.

Speaking on a conservative radio show, Abbott said Texas already sued the federal government long ago over having to incur the costs of the education program.

“And the Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue,” Abbott said. “I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler v. Doe was issued many decades ago.”

In light of the report that the Supreme Court is set to strike down Roe v. Wade and reverse long-enshrined federal abortion protections, Democrats and activists privately worry that efforts like Abbott’s are not the fantasy they would have seemed just six months ago, but could actually become reality in the near future.

But they argue Abbott’s gambit could backfire, as a similar campaign did after the passage of California’s infamous Proposition 187 in 1994 signed by then-Governor Pete Wilson, a Republican, which denied public services to undocumented immigrants, including public education.

After all, “Prop 187,” which only survived five years, had unintended consequences. Not only did it fail in discouraging immigrants from seeking services, it also helped to create a mobilized Latino electorate that proved to be a major factor in turning California blue.

Mike Madrid, a longtime Republican strategist, worked in California GOP politics and considers Wilson a friend. But he says the fallout from Prop 187 could serve as a warning for Texas Republicans.

“The legacy of 187 was to create a generational voting bloc of Latinos against the Republican Party that would not normally happen,” Madrid said, adding that California was then experiencing the rightward shift Texas is experiencing now. “That changed substantially because of these attacks on the community. Once attacked, Latinos rally.”

In California, the Latino share of the electorate nearly doubled at the time and support for Republicans crumbled, a far cry from the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan garnered 48% of the Hispanic vote. When Bob Dole ran in 1996, he received a paltry 6% of the Latino vote.

Julissa Arce, an activist and author of the new book “You Sound Like a White Girl: The Case for Rejecting Assimilation,” told Newsweek she was once an undocumented student in Texas when she lived in the state from age 11 to 21.

“Thank God no one was questioning how I got there,” she said. But fear was always present. “I never wanted to go talk to my counselor, afraid they might look at my documents.”

Abbott’s rhetoric creates an environment of fear, Arce said, particularly in a state where nearly 53% of public school students are Hispanic.

The end of the state educating undocumented kids would likely include echoes of the chaos of Prop 187, with school administrators having to ask children about the immigration status of their parents, and parents who have both undocumented and U.S.-citizen children pulling their kids from school.

Abbott has tacked to the right during his reelection campaign in an effort to energize his primary voters, often around issues concerning immigration and education. He sent buses of migrants to Washington DC, a message to the Biden administration to deal with a problem he feels it has made worse.

Last week, Abbott slammed the Biden administration for providing baby formula to immigrants in holding facilities, “as American parents scramble amid a nationwide shortage of the product.”

John Wittman, Abbott’s former communications director, told Newsweekthe Texas governor widely publicized moves are an effort to draw attention to the federal government’s shortcomings.

“I think the governor’s point is the federal government continues to fail in its responsibility of dealing with immigration, and Congress has failed for decades, so as a result states have had to deal with the fiscal responsibility of the issue,” he said. “The border and illegal immigration is something Texas has picked up the tab on.”

Arce called Abbott’s announcements “anti-immigrant sentiment and rhetoric” for a reelection campaign, but acknowledged “it feels different because he could really turn this into action as we’ve seen with Roe v. Wade, and this relitigation of things we thought had been settled.”

Source: Greg Abbott Backs Immigrant School Policy That Helped Turn California Blue

Why Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants Matters for US Economic Recovery | Immigration

Of note:

There are 10.4 million undocumented immigrants working and living in the United States. Approximately 5 million of them are considered essential workers — serving as health care professionals and staff at hospitals, as agricultural and farm workers producing the country’s food, as delivery drivers and grocery store clerks, and in other industries that have helped keep the country afloat. Some of them are Dreamers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, or Temporary Protected Status holders. Yet they were excluded from federal pandemic relief efforts and unable to receive stimulus checks and many do not have access to health care.

The Center for American Progress, a Corporation grantee, makes the case for the Biden administration and Congress to create a pathway to citizenship and permanent protections for undocumented immigrants as they continue to aid the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The author, Trinh Q. Truong, writes that creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would help ensure a robust economic recovery for all Americans. Should congressional efforts fail, Truong urges the Biden administration to take immediate executive action to promote stability in the lives of undocumented immigrants, their families, and their communities.

Source: Why Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants Matters for US Economic Recovery | Immigration

Saunders: Canada is now dependent on the ‘illegal’ workers in our midst. They deserve better

Frustrating that we do not have better numbers than the numbers thrown around by advocates. That being said, paths to regularization are better than being underground:

You may not notice that the crew drywalling your house are visitors from Russia on tourist visas that expired a couple months ago. You don’t ask, and your contractor doesn’t, because their work is good, and drywallers are so hard to find these days.

You may not notice that the brilliant young Indian developer you hired to rework your company’s customer-service platform is a graduate student whose visa does not actually allow her to work. It’s impossible to find anyone else with that talent in this economy.

We may not often notice, but undocumented immigrants – also known by the inaccurate U.S. term “illegals” – have become increasingly integral to our economy, and to our working lives, over the past two years.

First, there were the pandemic border closings and restrictions; then, there were the supply chain crises caused by pandemic labour immobility. Together, these have created gaping labour shortages, causing industries and governments to search desperately for skilled workers wherever they can find them.

Ontario, for example, recently asked Ottawa to double the number of skilled immigrants it usually receives; the province currently has more than 300,000 unfilled positions, mainly in health care, food services, manufacturing and construction. A lot of those are essential to the survival of their enterprises, and a good number of them – although accurate counts are hard to get – are being filled by the undocumented.

In other countries, the pandemic has forced governments to be more honest about their dependency on workers without papers. Ireland, for example, recently launched a plan that, when it comes into effect next week, will grant legal residency to tens of thousands of undocumented workers and ex-students who have been living there for at least four years (or three, if they have children). Irish officials say most have been employed throughout that period. (Ireland is also asking the United States to do the same for undocumented Irish immigrants working there.)

That follows Portugal, which granted temporary regularization to 223,000 undocumented migrants in 2020 and 2021; Spain, which gave legal residency to undocumented agricultural workers and granted work permits to foreigners aged 18 to 21 who were unable legally to work; and Italy, the first country to recognize the legal-worker shortage when, in spring of 2020, it granted a right to legal residency to foreign workers in agriculture, domestic service and care work.

Other countries, forced to acknowledge their economic dependence on people who aren’t permitted to be in the country, have had political campaigns to make them legal residents. Australia, whose border-quarantine program reduced pandemic deaths but prevented seasonal workers from entering, acknowledged hundreds of thousands of crucial workers were undocumented (or had become undocumented because they couldn’t leave when visas expired). It dealt with the problem partly the way Canada did: It met annual immigration targets by drawing on hundreds of thousands of people who were already in the country, giving them permanent residency. That still left a lot of workers with ambiguous papers.

Relying on undocumented workers isn’t just inhumane (they’re more likely to be exploited) and fiscally unwise (they’re less likely to pay taxes). It can also be deadly. That’s what health officials have warned in Brazil, where there are possibly millions of undocumented workers, mainly from the countries of the Andes, whose clandestine existence means they’re unlikely to enter a health clinic to get vaccinated. There’s a big campaign to regularize them in order to prevent further disease spread in what is already the world’s most COVID-19 infected country.

Countries such as Canada and the U.S. have been slower to recognize the pandemic-era role of the undocumented, in good part because of news media and political myths that portray the typical “illegal” as someone who paid a smuggler to sneak them across the border at night. In reality, the overwhelming majority, around the world, are people who entered the country legally at an airport and have overstayed their visa or have one that doesn’t permit work.

In Canada, the issue is rarely mentioned in polite society. But it’s well known in government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently used a mandate letter to instruct his new Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, to “explore ways of regularizing status for undocumented workers who are contributing to Canadian communities.”

It’s a typically Canadian way of facing a problem – quietly, slowly and long after other countries have successfully dealt with it. We ought to find a better way – at the very least for the sake of our many neighbours who make our lives better while living in fear and insecurity.


Key facts about the changing U.S. unauthorized immigrant population

Useful information and context:

Border Patrol apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border are on the rise again. Although the majority of people attempting to enter the United States illegally are stopped, this trend could foreshadow an increase in the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population after years of relative stability. Yet the activity at the southwestern U.S. border is only one part of the overall story of unauthorized immigration, as a growing share of this population came from regions other than Mexico or Central America and entered the U.S. legally but overstayed their visas.

The unauthorized immigrant population is always changing and churning. The total number in the country can remain stable or decline even as new immigrants enter illegally or overstay a visa, because some voluntarily leave the country, are deported, die or become lawful residents. In short, the dynamic nature and pace of migration patterns has resulted in an unauthorized immigrant population whose size and composition has ebbed and flowed significantly over the past 30 years.

Here are key facts about this population and its dynamics.

How we did this
Number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. has declined since 2007

The U.S. unauthorized immigrant population rose rapidly from 1990 to 2007 before declining sharply for two years and stabilizing at 10.5 million in 2017.Pew Research Center’s most recent estimate is well below a peak of 12.2 million in 2007, but roughly triple the estimated 3.5 million in 1990. The estimate includes 1.5 million or more people who have temporary permission to stay in the U.S. through programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), as well as people awaiting decisions on their asylum applications; most could be subject to deportation if government policy changed.

U.S. unauthorized immigrant populations declined or held steady for most regions of birth since 2007

Mexican unauthorized immigrants are no longer the majority of those living illegally in the U.S. As of 2017, 4.9 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. were born in Mexico, while 5.5 million were from other countries, the first time since at least 1990 that those from Mexico (47% in 2017) were not a majority of the total. In 2007, an estimated 6.9 million unauthorized immigrants were Mexican, and 5.3 million were born in other countries. The population of Mexican-born unauthorized immigrants declined after 2007 because the number of newly arrived unauthorized immigrants from Mexico fell dramatically – and as a result, more left the U.S. than arrived.

The number of unauthorized immigrants from nations other than Mexico ticked up between 2007 and 2017, from 5.3 million to 5.5 million. The population of unauthorized immigrants born in Central America and Asia increased during this time, while birth regions of South America and Europe saw declines. There was not a statistically significant change among other large regions, including the Caribbean, Middle East-North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

A rising share of U.S. unauthorized immigrants apparently arrived in the country legally but overstayed their visas. Nearly all people apprehended while attempting to enter the country illegally at the U.S.-Mexico border are from either Mexico or Central America. This stands in contrast to the origins of visa overstays.

In recent years, immigrants from countries outside of Mexico and Central America accounted for almost 90% of overstays, and in 2017, there were more than 30 overstays for every border apprehension for these countries. Although the Census Bureau data Pew Research Center uses to estimate the size of the unauthorized immigrant population does not indicate directly whether someone arrived with legal status, the origin countries of immigrants in these sources provide indirect evidence. From 2007 to 2017, the share of newly arrived unauthorized immigrants (those in the U.S. five years or less) from regions other than Central America and Mexico – the vast majority of whom are overstays – increased from 37% to 63%. At the same time, the share of new unauthorized immigrants from Mexico fell from 52% to 20%.

Short-term residents decline and long-term residents rise as share of U.S. unauthorized immigrants

The decline in the arrival of new unauthorized immigrants in recent years has resulted in a population that is increasingly settled in the U.S. About two-thirds of unauthorized immigrants (66%) had lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years as of 2017, up from 41% 10 years earlier. Conversely, newly arrived unauthorized immigrants (those in the U.S. five years or less) accounted for 20% of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2017 versus 30% in 2007. For Mexicans, the pattern is even more pronounced. The vast majority (83%) of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico have been in the country more than 10 years, while only 8% have lived in the U.S. for five years or less.

Source: Key facts about the changing U.S. unauthorized immigrant population

USA: Sixty-nine percent of undocumented immigrant workers have jobs “essential” to fighting Covid, says study

Not surprising:

More than two-thirds of undocumented immigrant workers have frontline jobs considered “essential” to the U.S. fight against Covid-19, according to a new study released Wednesday by pro-immigration reform group FWD.US.

Sixty-nine percent of undocumented immigrant workers have jobs deemed essential by the Department of Homeland Security, according to the study, which is based on the 2019 American Community Survey by the Census Bureau. The study also estimated that nearly one in five essential workers is an immigrant.

By contrast, the Trump administration has argued that protecting American jobs against foreign workers is crucial to fixing the economic harm caused by Covid-19.

In April, Trump signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration to “ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens.” In June, Trump extended the order through the end of the year.

Undocumented immigrants make up 11 percent of agriculture workers, 2 percent of healthcare workers and 6 percent of food services and production workers, the study estimated.

Elizabeth Valencia, 54, on Temporary Protected Status that allows some Salvadorans to work and live in the United States, said she was the only geriatric nursing assistant serving 28 Covid-19 positive residents at a nursing home in Maryland earlier this year after an outbreak affected the staff.

Valencia has lived in the U.S. for 20 years and has worked in the nursing home for almost 18 years, starting as cleaning staff before she trained to be a nursing assistant.

Valencia said all of her co-workers on the floor where she cares for dementia patients are immigrants.

“[The residents] cannot survive by themselves,” she said. “They need us.”

The study also found that 70 percent of the immigrants working in essential jobs have lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years and 60 percent speak English.

Nearly one million of the essential workers are “Dreamers” protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the study found. Although DACA, enacted by former President Barack Obama, won a challenge by the Trump administration in a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, a new case in Texas could end the policy.

DACA recipient Jonathan Rodas works as an operating room assistant at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center while he is attending nursing school. Rodas and his entire household, including his undocumented stepfather, all tested positive for Covid-19 in July. They have now all fully recovered and no one was hospitalized.

But Rodas said he was especially worried about his stepfather needing to be hospitalized because he, like other undocumented immigrants, does not have health insurance. Rodas is now back to work. He said he is not surprised by the study that found one in five essential workers are immigrants.

“There’s not a lot of people out there who want to do that job because they’re scared of it,” Rodas said, talking about working in a hospital during a pandemic. “I’m scared of it. But I do it for the patient. The passion that I have to help people out.”

Source: Sixty-nine percent of undocumented immigrant workers have jobs “essential” to fighting Covid, says study

Undocumented immigrants may actually make American communities safer – not more dangerous – new study finds

Similar to other studies:

The big idea

Undocumented immigration does not increase the violent crime rate in U.S. metropolitan areas. In fact, it may reduce property crime rates. These are the key findings from our recently published article in the Journal of Crime and Justice, co-authored by Yulin Yang, James Bachmeier and Mike Maciag.

Research shows that the American communities where immigrants make their homes are more often improved by their presence than harmed by it. Immigrants bring social, cultural and economic activity to the places they live. That makes these places more vital and safer, not more dangerous.

Why it matters

People from all social groups and backgrounds commit crimes. But undocumented immigrants, and immigrants more generally, are often baselessly blamed for increasing crime rates – including, repeatedly, by President Donald Trump. In the second and final presidential debate, Trump again claimed undocumented immigrants are rapists and murderers.

This notion has existed and been studied since the early 20th century, including in a 2005 analysis we conducted with a number of colleagues that concluded immigration did not increase crime rates in U.S. metropolitan areas.

But this research is often dismissed because most empirical studies cannot separate undocumented immigrants from the total immigrant population. That level of analysis is necessary to draw conclusions about the relationship between undocumented immigration and crime.

For example, we found in a 2017 study with colleagues that from 1970 to 2010 metropolitan areas with greater concentrations of immigrants, legal and undocumented combined, have less property crime than areas with fewer immigrants, on average. Critics suggested that our findings would not hold if we looked at only the subset of undocumented individuals.

So we decided to find out if they were right. Our new study is the result of that effort, and it confirms our original findings: Undocumented immigration, on average, has no effect on violent crime across U.S. metropolitan areas.

In statistical models that did identify a significant relationship between undocumented immigration and crime, we found undocumented immigration reduces property crimes, such as burglary.

How we do our work

Using two different estimates of the undocumented immigrant populations for 154 metropolitan areas in our most recent study – one from the Pew Research Center and one from the Migration Population Institute – we examined the effect of undocumented immigration on homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and larceny crime rates.

Crime rate data came from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report program. Other data were from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Using a statistical method called regression analysis to examine the data, we found that as the size of the undocumented population increases, the property crime rate decreases, on average. And the size of the undocumented population in a metropolitan area tends to have no impact on the violent crime rate.

These findings build on the conclusions of a large 2018 study in which researchers Graham Ousey and Charis Kubrin examined 51 studies on immigration and crime published from 1994 to 2014.

What still isn’t known

Our analyses looked at broad metropolitan patterns, not the relationship of undocumented immigration and crime rates in distinct, specific places such as New York City and Los Angeles. Nor does our study address the reasons that immigration reduces crime, although there is plenty of other scholarship on that issue.

Source: Undocumented immigrants may actually make American communities safer – not more dangerous – new study finds

US Census Bureau Head: No Advance Warning Over Citizenship Count

Incompetence or deliberate disfunction:

The U.S. Census Bureau director testified Wednesday that he was not given advance notification about an order by the Trump administration that called for undocumented immigrants to be excluded from the national census.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order earlier this month in which he argued that having people who are in the country illegally affect representation in Congress “would be a perversion of our democratic principles.”

Steven Dillingham was called before the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee to discuss the order affecting the 2020 census, the once-a-decade count of every person living in the United States and its five territories.

The census has vast implications for the country. The results are used to decide how many congressional seats each state gets, as well as the allocation of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending.

Dillingham told lawmakers that he did not know if any Census Bureau staff were involved in drafting the order, which has been called unconstitutional by civil rights groups.

The Democrats who chair the House Oversight Committee said Trump’s order went against prior assurances from administration officials who pledged at earlier hearings to conduct a complete count that includes everyone residing in the United States.

But Republicans said the order was constitutional, saying the president’s order applied only to redrawing the congressional districts, not the count or how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed.

The Census Bureau was forced to suspend field operations in March and April because of the coronavirus pandemic. The deadline for finishing the count was pushed from July 31 to October 31.

Dillingham also offered in his testimony that despite the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 census self-response has been a “tremendous success.”

“We are now at almost 63 percent, with more than 92 million households counted. About 80 percent have chosen to respond using the internet. Our response system has not had a single minute of downtime since we first invited people to respond online, beginning in March,” he said.

Source: US Census Bureau Head: No Advance Warning Over Citizenship Count

“Dreamers” in Canada need protection, too

It would be helpful having more accurate estimates on the numbers rather than the anecdotal wide range. The numbers are important to assess what policy approach or approaches are more appropriate and or needed:

Thursday’s long-awaited U.S. Supreme Court decision rejecting the Trump administration’s bid to end the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program was met with sighs of relief on both sides of the border. The plight of so-called “Dreamers” — youth and young people who were brought to the U.S. as children who remained with no legal immigration status — is a well-known and heartbreaking story. Despite most often having had no role in the decision to migrate, nor having remaining connection to their previous country, these young people are vulnerable to deportation. Anti-immigration advocates accuse them of “cheating the system.”

While we gasp at this close call in the U.S., the truth is that Canada is no better on this issue. In fact, non-citizens brought to Canada as children are perhaps in a worse position. We have no DACA-equivalent legislation to provide protection from deportation or temporary work authorization to our “Dreamers.” We do not even have a public discourse on the issue.

While the term “Dreamers” invokes idealistic accounts of overcoming odds and happy endings, the people this term refers to are in fact real people living real lives. Like other children, they have gone to school, made neighbourhood friends, and developed views of the world based on their Canadian lives.

As the pandemic has laid bare, while migrants are essential to our communities, they are so often exploited and excluded. Migrants face barriers to health care, education, decent work, family unity and equal rights. While legalization theoretically enables “Dreamers” to access K-12 education, many require the intervention of lawyers and community advocates to enforce that right. As they grow up, they discover they cannot work legally, access supports such as OHIP and OSAP, enrol at most universities and colleges (or if they are admitted, face elevated international fees). Without SIN numbers, they cannot access CERB or CESB. Seeking professional support or calling the police, always a perilous choice for racialized groups, risks exposure to immigration authorities.

These barriers not only close doors to opportunities that other Canadians take for granted, they force these young people into precarious employment, housing and social situations that make them vulnerable to abuse. To protect themselves and their families, they work to “fly under the radar.” Living as an undocumented person carries huge psychological weight. In this case, that weight is carried by children and youth.

Consider “Marla,” who was brought to Canada at the age of 4. She has lived in the GTA for 18 years. An academic star throughout school, she was completely unaware of her insecure immigration status and what that meant until she was mid-way through high school. The revelation was harsh. While her friends entered university, she had to abandon her own university ambitions and instead enter precarious factory employment.

Since 2012, DACA has enabled approximately 800,000 young adults to work lawfully in the U.S.. How many undocumented childhood arrivals do we have in Canada? We do not actually know. Estimates of the number of people living in Canada without legal immigration status vary from 20,000 to 500,000, but there is no estimate of those who arrived during childhood. The existence of childhood arrivals is seldom even acknowledged.

Therefore, hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of young people across the country are living in marginalization and vulnerability. They also cannot contribute to our communities and economies in the ways they wish. And this despite the significant investments we have made in them (e.g., education, emergency health care) — and they in us.

Do we need quantifiable numbers before we act? No. Agencies working with migrants and young people know of enough people like Marla to know their predicament is real.

If the Canadian government finally decides to provide protections to this special group, we must not blindly accept a DACA-like model. Despite applauding Thursday’s decision, we know that DACA is insufficient. It defers removals but does not provide a pathway to citizenship, effectively leaving young people in limbo. It also creates a hierarchy of entitlement due to strict inclusion criteria. A made-in-Canada solution would need to address these glaring deficiencies and embrace childhood arrivals as equal and welcome members of our society.

100,000 children in London ‘without secure immigration status’

Of note:

New research estimates that more than 100,000 children are living in London without secure immigration status, despite more than half of them having been born in the UK.

Children who are undocumented may face problems accessing higher education, health care, opening bank accounts, and applying for driving licences, housing and jobs. The findings were condemned by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as a “national disgrace”.

The study, commissioned by the mayor and undertaken by the University of Wolverhampton, estimated that there were around 107,000 undocumented children and 26,000 18- to 24-year-olds in London. Once an undocumented child turns 18, they face the threat of deportation to a country they may never have visited.

Undocumented people can include those who arrived in the UK with proper documentation but who stayed beyond their permitted time, those who entered without proper documentation, trafficked children, unaccompanied minors whose temporary leave to remain was withdrawn once they reached adulthood and young people born to parents who are themselves undocumented.

The research found that more than half of the UK’s estimated 674,000 undocumented adults and children live in London. It warns that the number of undocumented young people could rise dramatically if the estimated 350,000 young European nationals in the UK are not helped to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme that will enable them to remain after Brexit.

Assessing the size of Britain’s undocumented population is inevitably a challenging process, since there is no official data and it requires counting people outside most formal systems. Instead, the report has reviewed previous research and analysed all available data to come up with a conservative estimate. The study suggests that the population of undocumented migrant children has grown by 56% between March 2011 and March 2017.

The report highlights the high cost of regularising immigration status. “The Windrush scandal has exposed the barriers facing people who have lived in the UK for many years, including a complex application process, a lack of awareness of the system, cuts to legal aid and the high cost of applications – with the high court last month deeming as ‘unlawful’ a government decision to charge £1,012 to register children as British citizens,” the report states. “Since 2012, only 10% of families with undocumented children in the UK have applied to secure their immigration status.”

How many undocumented immigrants are in the United States and who are they?

Good overview:

Ascertaining the size of the undocumented population is difficult. Estimates vary according to the methodology used. While anti-immigrant groups maintain that the flow of undocumented immigrants has increased, estimates show that over a longer period the number has declined. An often-overlooked fact is that many illegal immigrants pay payroll taxes and sales taxes.

  • Estimates of the number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. range from 10.5 million to 12 million, or approximately 3.2%–3.6% of the population.
  • Immigrants from Mexico have recently, for the first time, fallen to less than half of the undocumented population.
  • In evaluating the cost of illegal immigration, both benefits consumed and taxes paid must be counted.

A Closer Look

The issue of undocumented immigrants has been front and center in American elections since 2016; it has elicited passionate responses from all parts of the political spectrum. Here are a few facts voters need as they wade through the thicket of rhetoric on this issue.

How do we count people who are here illegally?

Ascertaining the size of the illegal population is difficult because, as is obvious, people who are here illegally don’t always want to tell pollsters their legal status (or absence thereof.) The first step estimators use is to take data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, or ACS, which interviews over 2 million households a year. This survey asks people where they were born and whether they are U.S. citizens, but it does not ask if they are here illegally. This yields a total number for the “foreign-born” population.

The next step is to subtract from that total the number of foreign-born residents who we know for certain are here legally. Among them are naturalized citizens, people who have permanent resident status (green cards), and people who have been admitted as refugees. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) keeps careful records of the first two groups and the Department of Health and Human Services keeps careful records of the third. By subtracting the number of people who we know for certain are here legally from the overall number of foreign-born in the ACS survey we can estimate the number of undocumented residents.

Of course, not all undocumented people take part in surveys, and for good reason—they do not want to be found out. So, most estimates assume that there is an “undercount.” The Pew Research Center relies, in part, on survey and census data from Mexico. They estimate the undercount to be somewhere in the range of 5 to 15 percent, which is then added to the number of undocumented immigrants. DHS believes that the undercount is 10% and adjusts its estimates accordingly.

The size of the undercount is a matter of controversy. Opponents of illegal immigration such as FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) argue that the undercount is in fact much bigger. To get to their estimates they analyze other data such as the percentage of migrants who failed to show up for their immigration hearings and those who have overstayed their visas.

So, what are the numbers?

The numbers of undocumented vary according to the methodology used, and there’s also a lag in the estimates because it takes time for accurate data to become available. The last estimate released by the Office of Immigration Statistics at DHS came in December 2018: As of January 1, 2015, there were 11.96 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The most recent Pew Research estimate puts the total number of unauthorized immigrants at 10.5 million in 2017. Overall, this represents a minority of the foreign-born population, which in 2017 numbered 44.5 million—45% of whom are naturalized citizens, and 27% of whom are lawful permanent residents.

While anti-immigrant groups maintain that the flow of illegal immigrants has increased, estimates show that over a longer period the number of undocumented immigrants has declined, from 12.2 million in 2005 to 10.5 million in 2017 according to Pew’s estimates. DHS figures don’t go beyond 2015, but they estimate that the population of undocumented immigrants increased by 70,000 people per year between 2010 and 2015, compared to increases of 470,000 per year between 2000 and 2007.

Who are the undocumented?

Immigrants from Mexico have recently, for the first time since 1990, represented less than half of the undocumented population. According to Pew, in 2017, about 4.95 million of the 10.5 million undocumented population were from Mexico, 1.9 million from Central America, and 1.45 million from Asia. About two-thirds of undocumented immigrants have been in the U.S. for 10 years or longer. In 2017, just 20% of undocumented, adult immigrants had lived in the U.S. for 5 years or less.

In contrast to the President Trump’s rhetoric about building a wall at the Mexican border, illegal migration has shifted since 2010 from border-crossing to visa overstays—the latter share has been greater than border crossings since 2010. The Center for Migration Studies estimates that in 2016, 62% of the undocumented were here because they overstayed their visas versus 38% who crossed the border illegally.

Another controversy is over how much illegal immigrants cost the system. An often overlooked fact is that illegal immigrants are taxpayers. The anti-immigrant lobby tends to ignore the money the immigrants often pay in payroll and sales taxes while counting the money spent on educating children born in the United States to immigrants. Numbers vary widely depending on the source, but undocumented immigrants are not eligible for most federal benefit programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In evaluating the cost of illegal immigration, the voter has to make sure that the argument takes in both benefits consumed and taxes paid.

What about the Dreamers?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was implemented by President Obama to allow many undocumented individuals who came to the U.S. before their 16th birthday to work in the U.S. and defer any action on their immigration cases for a renewable two-year period. About 800,000 immigrants have been covered by DACA at some point since it was implemented; 690,000 are currently in the program. According to Pew, the gap consists of approximately 70,000 who were rejected for renewal or opted not to renew, and 40,000 who were able to obtain a green card. At present no new applications are being accepted by USCIS, so the number of Dreamers is not likely to grow.

What are the candidates saying?

In the 2020 campaign, President Trump has continued his push for a wall at the southern border, on top of increased enforcement both at the border and in the interior. On the Democratic side, all the candidates support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, which would require getting legislation through Congress. There are also shorter-term proposals that a new president could enact on their own, like Elizabeth Warren’s plan to reinstate DACA and to expand deferred action to include more than the Dreamers. Kamala Harris has said she would reinstate DACA and implement DAPA, the shelved policy to protect the Dreamers’ parents. Pete Buttigieg has stated that he would restore the enforcement priorities set by the Obama administration. A number of the Democratic candidates have voiced support for repealing the law that makes it a crime to cross the border without authorization.

As we have seen during the Trump administration, the president can do a great deal even absent legislation to affect the situation of those seeking to come to the United States.

Source: How many undocumented immigrants are in the United States and who are they?