Ten Years of Democratizing Data: Privileging Facts, Refuting Misconceptions and Examining Missed Opportunities
Donald Kerwin and Robert Warren
December 21, 2022
The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) initiated its “Democratizing Data” project in 2013 to make detailed demographic information widely available on the US undocumented, eligible to naturalize, and other non-citizen populations. The paper begins by outlining top-line findings and themes from the more than 30 CMS studies under this project. It then examines and refutes four persistent misconceptions that have inhibited public understanding and needed policy change: (1) migrants never leave the United States; (2) most undocumented migrants arrive by illegally crossing the US-Mexico border; (3) each Border Patrol apprehension translates into a new undocumented resident; and (4) immigrants are less skilled than US-born workers. The paper then offers new analyses in support of select policy recommendations drawn from a decade of democratizing data. It concludes with a short reflection and a case study on the failure of data, evidence-based policy ideas, and national ideals to translate into necessary reform.