Thursday, August 5, 2021
Center for Migration Studies of New York: Key Findings About the US Undocumented and Eligible-to-Naturalize Populations
The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) estimates that 10.35 undocumented immigrants and 8.1
million immigrants who are eligible to naturalize reside in the United States. These estimates are based on data from the American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the US Census Bureau in 2019, the most recent year available.
The US undocumented population is shrinking.
An estimated 10.35 million undocumented immigrants resided in the United States in 2019 compared to 11.73 million in 2010. Thus, between 2010 and 2019, the undocumented population in the United States declined by 1.4 million, or 12 percent. This trend is primarily driven by Mexican nationals voluntarily leaving the United States.
The percentage of undocumented immigrants that has lived in the United States for 15 years or more increased from 25 percent to 43 percent between 2010 and 2019. During their increasingly long tenure in the United States, undocumented immigrants have become integral to US communities. CMS estimates that:
● 38 percent of undocumented immigrants are parents of US citizens,
● 16 percent are married to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR), and
● 96 percent of those in the labor force are employed.
Noncitizens, particularly the undocumented, face challenges because of their status.
While CMS data points to the tremendous contributions of immigrant noncitizens, it also highlights the challenges facing this community. For example, CMS estimates:
● 20 percent of the US undocumented population lives at or below the poverty threshold, and
● 50 percent does not have health insurance.
The eligible-to-naturalize population fares better than the undocumented. CMS estimates:
● 15 percent of the eligible-to-naturalize population lives at or below the poverty threshold, and
● 17 percent does not have health insurance.
Expanding legal pathways and promoting citizenship could address these disparities. A recent CMS report, Making Citizenship an Organizing Principle of the US Immigration System: An Analysis of How and Why to
Broaden Access to Permanent Residence and Naturalization for New Americans, found that the median household income was $25,800, or 27 percent, higher for the naturalized population, compared to the population that had not naturalized.