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Immigration Advocacy

Learn the Facts

Immigration Facts

How many people in the United States are Immigrants?

The U.S.-based, foreign-born population reached a record 43.7 million in 2016. Immigrants today account for 13.5% of the U.S. population, (Source – Fact-tank 2018, the Pew Research Center, Washington, DC).

What is the legal status of immigrants in the U.S.?

Most immigrants (76%) are in the country legally, while one-quarter are unauthorized.  In 2016, 45% were naturalized U.S. citizens.  In 2016, there were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., accounting for 3.3% of the nation’s population.  (Source – Fact-tank 2018, the Pew Research Center, Washington, DC).

Where do immigrants in the U.S. come from?

Today, nearly 60% of the foreign-born emigrated from Mexico or Asian countries.  India and China now account for the largest share (6.5% and 4.7% of all immigrants, respectively) among Asian immigrants, while El Salvador (3.4%) and Cuba (2.9%) are the primary origin countries (after Mexico).  As of 2017, immigrants from Germany account for the largest share of European immigrants (1.1%).  (Source – Data as quoted in Reports by the Hamilton Project 2018, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC).

What are the education levels of immigrants?

The educational attainment of immigrants is much more variable than that of native-born individuals.  There are more immigrants with less than high school degrees, but also more immigrants with a Master’s degree or a Doctorate (relative to children of native-born parents).  This reflects the diversity of backgrounds that characterize immigrants.  Of all prime-age, foreign-born persons in the U.S. with a post-secondary degree, 58% are from Asian countries, while 51.2% of all prime-age, foreign-born persons with a high school degree are from Mexico.  (Source – Data as quoted in Reports by the Hamilton Project 2018, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC).

What is the economic impact of immigration?

There is broad agreement among researchers that immigration raises total economic impact.  By increasing the number of workers in the labor force, immigrants enhance the productive capacity of the U.S. economy.  One estimate suggests that the total annual contribution of foreign- born workers is roughly $2 trillion, or about 2% of GDP.

How do immigrants strengthen the economy?

Immigrants start businesses:

  •  According to the Small Business Administration, immigrants are 30% more likely to start a business in the U.S. than non-immigrants, and 18% of all small business owners are immigrants;
  • According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, small businesses owned by immigrants employed an estimated 4.7 million people in 2007, and, according to the latest estimates, these business generated $776 billion annually. Source – Ten Ways Immigrants Help Build and Strengthen Our Economy 2012, the White House, Washington, DC.

How much do undocumented immigrants contribute to the state and local government revenue in the U.S.?

Undocumented immigrants pay an average of $11.65 billion in state and local taxes per year.  On average, an undocumented individual has about 8% of their income go to taxes.  Moreover, all immigrants – regardless of status – will contribute approximately $80,000 more in taxes than they get in government services used in their lifetime. (Source – Undocumented Immigrants’ State and Local Tax Contributions 2017, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Washington, DC).

Are immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants, more prone to commit crime?

Many violations of immigration law, such as unlawful presence or overstaying one’s visa are civil, not criminal, offenses.  A handful of immigration offenses, such as illegal reentry and illegal reentry after removal, are criminal offenses.  However, according to the research, immigrants are less prone to commit crimes than are the native born and they are less likely to be incarcerated.  It further suggests that, on the aggregate, cities and communities with high levels of immigration tend to have stable or declining crime rates and low levels of violent crime.  It is unclear why immigration would be associated with lower crime but sociologists have noted that immigrant communities tend to have stronger families and cultural beliefs that tend to be buffers against crime.  Another explanation that can be inferred from the motivation most immigrant come to the U.S. – to work and create a better life for their children.  Getting into trouble with the law risks all of that hard work. (Source – Fact Sheet: Immigrants and Crime 2018, Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force: Path to Public Safety). 

LSS/NCA Comments on DHS Proposed “Public Charge” Rule

A November 19th letter from CEO Christine Connell provides LSS/NCA’s comments on a  Department of Homeland Security proposed rule that significantly expands the definition of what benefits constitutes “public charge” for purposes of legal immigration.  The rule published in the Federal Register on October 10th  (DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0012), with a comment deadline of December 10th, significantly alters the current practice that limits public charge benefits to persons who would likely depend on public cash benefits or long-term care at the government’s expense by also including TANF, SSI SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare Part D and Section 8 housing assistance.  The rule would force immigrants to choose between seeking benefits for themselves or their families on a short term basis versus the opportunity to attain or maintain legal immigrant status.  LSS/NCA strongly urges DHS not to promulgate the rule, which is yet another way of hurting immigrants.

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