Democratizing Data

Democratizing Data

Fixing What’s Most Broken in the US Immigration System: A Profile of the Family Members of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents Mired in Multiyear Backlogs

This paper offers estimates and a profile of the 1.55 million US residents potentially eligible for a family-based immigration visa based on a qualifying relationship to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) living in their household.  It finds that this population – which is strongly correlated to the 3.7 million persons in family-based visa backlogs – has established long and strong roots in the United States, with US-born citizen children, mortgages, health insurance, and median income and labor force participation rates that exceed those of the overall US population. The paper offers several recommendations to reduce family-based backlogs.  First, it calls for Congress to pass and the administration to implement legislation that provides a path to LPR status for persons in long-term backlogs. This legislation should: 1) define the spouses and minor unmarried children of LPRs as “immediate relatives” not subject to numerical limits, 2) not count the derivative family members of principal visa beneficiaries against per country and annual quotas, and 3) raise per country caps. The administration should also re-issue the visas of legal immigrants who emigrate each year, particularly those who formally abandon LPR status. Finally, Congress should also advance the cutoff date for the US registry program.

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Overstays Exceeded Illegal Border Crossers after 2010 Because Illegal Entries Dropped to Their Lowest Level in Decades

This essay by CMS Senior Fellow Robert Warren examines the number of nonimmigrants who overstayed their visas to the United States. It demonstrates that the number of visa overstays has not spiked, but has remained in the 200,000 to 400,000 range since 2000. Moreover, visa overstays leave the undocumented population at significant rates, including through emigration and adjustment to lawful permanent resident status. Of those who overstayed their non-immigrant visas in 2000, less than one-half were living in the United States as undocumented residents in 2017.

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US Undocumented Population Continued to Fall from 2016 to 2017 and Visa Overstays Significantly Exceeded Illegal Crossings for the Seventh Consecutive Year

This paper finds that the US undocumented population from Mexico declined by 1.3 million people from 2010 to 2017, including a decrease of 400,000 from 2016 to 2017. For the first time ever, Mexican nationals constitute less than half of the total US undocumented population. The paper also finds that visa overstays contributed significantly more to the population of newly undocumented residents than illegal border crossers from 2010 to 2017. It recommends that the administration and Congress work together to: 1) provide more resources to the US Department of State for their visa-issuance work and 2) pass legislation to legalize the DREAM-Act eligible population, long-term Temporary Protected Status beneficiaries, and “intending immigrants” with US citizen or lawful permanent resident family members. These findings reveal a disconnect between public discourse on the border wall and empirical data, and argue for more nuanced and evidence-based responses to undocumented migration.

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Proposed Public Charge Rule Would Significantly Reduce Legal Admissions and Adjustment to Lawful Permanent Resident Status of Working Class Persons

On October 10, 2018, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its long-anticipated proposed rule on inadmissibility on public charge grounds. Under the proposed rule, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers would consider receipt of cash benefits and, in a break from the past, non-cash medical, housing, and food benefits in making public charge determinations. This focuses on the potential effect of the proposed rule on two populations, undocumented immigrants and nonimmigrants that would otherwise be eligible for legal permanent resident (LPR) status based on a legally qualifying relationship to a US citizen or LPR living in their household. This CMS report analyzes how these populations in 2016 would have fared under the proposed rule. After placing the rule in historic context, the paper profiles these two populations and examines the characteristics that would mitigate in favor of and against their inadmissibility. The study offers a snapshot of these two groups based on estimates derived from the 2016 American Community Survey (ACS).

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The US Undocumented Population Fell Sharply During the Obama Era: Estimates for 2016
This report shows estimates of the undocumented population residing in the United States in 2016, by country of origin and state of residence. Previous CMS reports have documented the long-term change from rapid population growth in the 1990s, to single-digit rates of growth in 2000 to 2010. This report shows continued declines in the population from most countries and in most states since 2010.

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DREAM Act-Eligible Poised to Build on the Investments Made in Them

This paper outlines the results of a study on young immigrants, known as the Dreamers, who would be eligible for conditional permanent status under the DREAM Act of 2017. The study paints a portrait of a highly productive, integrated group of young Americans, who are deeply committed to the United States and poised to make — with status and time — even more substantial contributions to the communities that have invested in them. These investments include $150 billion that states and localities have to date spent on the education of Dreamers. The paper highlights potential DREAM Act recipients’ large numbers, prevalence throughout the country, high levels of employment and self-employment, long residence, US families, English language proficiency, and education levels. It argues that with time and, particularly, with a path to citizenship, the Dreamers would be able to contribute significantly more to their communities. Finally, the study finds that a large number of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, who will soon lose this status, would qualify for relief under the DREAM Act.

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