How many illegal immigrants live in the USA and what is known about them
The issue of illegal immigrants has been the focus of American elections since the 2016 year, causing heated debate in all parts of the political spectrum. Here are a few facts to know about undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
It is difficult to determine the number of illegal residents of the United States. Estimates vary depending on the methodology used. Although anti-immigrant groups claim that the flow of illegal immigrants has increased, estimates show that over a longer period their number has declined. Also, as notes Policy 2020 BrookingsIt is often overlooked that many illegal immigrants pay payroll taxes and sales taxes.
According to people who are in the country illegally
It is difficult to establish the true size of the illegal population, since people in the United States without a legal status are in no hurry to report this. The first step that researchers use to evaluate is to get survey data from the American Society Survey from the Census Bureau (ACS survey). It takes into account surveys of more than 2 million households per year: people are questioned about where they were born and whether they are US citizens, but does not ask if they are illegally in the country. This provides an understanding of the total number of “foreign” people.
The next step is to subtract from this sum the number of residents of foreign origin who are known to be legally in America. Among them are naturalized citizens, green card holders and refugees. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) keeps a careful record of the first two groups, while the Department of Health and Human Services maintains an equally careful record of the third. As a result, it becomes possible to estimate the number of US residents who do not have legal status.
Of course, not all illegal residents take part in the polls, and not without reason - they do not want to be known about them. Thus, most estimates suggest that there is an “under-accounting”. Pew Research is based in part on research and censuses from Mexico. According to their estimates, the underestimation ranges from 5 to 15 percent, which is ultimately added to the received number of unregistered immigrants. DHS believes that the underestimation is 10%, and accordingly adjusts its estimates.
The size of the count is a matter of debate. Opponents of illegal immigration, such as the FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), argue that there are actually more underestimates. To get their grades, they analyze other data, such as the percentage of migrants who did not attend the immigration hearings, and those who had expired their visas.
So what are the numbers?
The number of illegal immigrants varies depending on the methodology used, and there is also a lag in estimates, since it takes time to get accurate data. The latest estimate published by the Immigration Statistics Authority at DHS was received in December 2018. According to these figures, as of January 1 of 2015, there were 11,96 million unregistered immigrants in the United States. According to recent Pew Research estimates, the total number of unauthorized immigrants was 10,5 million in the 2017 year. In general, this constitutes a minority of the population of foreign origin, which in 2017 amounted to 44,5 million people, 45% of whom are naturalized citizens, and 27% are legal permanent residents.
Although anti-immigrant groups claim that the flow of illegal immigrants has increased, estimates show that over a longer period, the number of illegal immigrants has decreased from 12,2 million in 2005 to 10,5 million in 2017, according to Pew Research estimates. DHS data does not go beyond the 2015 year, but according to their estimates, the number of undocumented immigrants increased by 70 000 people per year from 2010 to 2015 year compared to 470 000 people per year from 2000 to 2007 year.
Who are they
Mexican immigrants recently, for the first time since 1990, made up less than half of the unregistered population. According to Pew Research, in 2017, about 4,95 million of the 10,5 million illegal immigrants were from Mexico, 1,9 million from Central America and 1,45 million from Asia. About two-thirds of illegal immigrants have been in the United States for 10 years or longer. In 2017, only 20% of undocumented adult immigrants lived in the United States for no more than 5 years.
Although the rhetoric of U.S. President Donald Trump was mainly about building a wall on the Mexican border, illegal migration from the 2010 of the year moved from crossing the border to a visa delay - the share of the latter was greater than crossing the border with the 2010 of the year. According to the estimates of the Center for Migration Studies, in 2016, 62% of illegal immigrants were in the United States after the expiration of visas - against 38% of those who illegally crossed the border.
Another controversy is how much illegal immigrants cost the system. It is often overlooked that illegal immigrants are taxpayers. The anti-immigrant lobby tends to ignore the money that immigrants often pay in the form of wages and sales taxes, considering the money spent on educating children of immigrants born in the United States. Numbers vary widely depending on the source, but illegal immigrants are not eligible to participate in most federal benefit programs, including supplementary nutrition programs. When assessing the cost of illegal immigration, you need to make sure that the argument takes into account both the benefits consumed and the taxes paid.
What about Dreamers?
President Obama has introduced the Deferred Arrival of Children (DACA) Program to allow many illegal immigrants who have arrived in the U.S. before the 16 anniversary to work in the U.S. and to postpone any immigration activities for a renewable two-year period. Around 800 000 immigrants have been covered by the DACA since its implementation; 690 000 currently remain in the program. According to Pew Research, the gap is approximately 70 000 people who decided not to renew the program or their applications were rejected, and 40 000, who were able to get a green card. Currently, USCIS does not accept any new applications, so the number of Dreamers is unlikely to increase.
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