Skip to Content


Just the Facts

Immigration Fact Checks provide up-to-date information on the most current issues involving immigration today.

Citizenship Day 2012: Realizing the Potential of the Immigrant Vote

For many aspiring immigrants, achieving citizenship means full participation in civic life—and that means the right to vote. Every year, thousands of immigrants become naturalized U.S. citizens and exercise their new right. In the 2010 national elections, naturalized citizens comprised 6.4% of all voters. The voter registration rate among immigrants as a whole has risen since 2000. Just as importantly, a growing number of U.S.-born children of immigrants are now coming of age and becoming voters.

However, the full potential of the immigrant vote has not been reached. There are more than eight million legal immigrants in the United States who are eligible to naturalize but have not yet done so. The latent electoral power of these voters-in-waiting is enormous. In many parts of the country their votes could potentially swing elections. As described in a series of Immigration Impact blog posts by Rob Paral, there are numerous counties across the country where the number of Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) who have arrived since 1985 exceeds the margin of victory in the Obama-McCain election. Moreover, the voter rolls of many counties would grow dramatically if LPRs who are eligible to naturalize actually did so and registered to vote. Although this could not happen in time for the 2012 election cycle, it could make a difference in future elections.

In many U.S. counties, the number of Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) who have arrived since 1985 exceeds the Obama-McCain margin of victory.Read more...

Published On: Mon, Sep 17, 2012 | Download File

Who and Where the DREAMers Are

A Demographic Profile of Immigrants Who Might Benefit from the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Initiative.

Note: A more up-to-date version of this publication is available here.

A new analysis casts some much-needed light on the question of exactly who might be eligible for the Obama Administration’s “deferred action” initiative for unauthorized youth who were brought to this country as children. This initiative, announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on June 15, offers a two-year, renewable reprieve from deportation to unauthorized immigrants who are under the age of 31; entered the United States before age 16; have lived continuously in the country for at least five years; have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant” misdemeanor, or three other misdemeanors; and are currently in school, graduated from high school, earned a GED, or served in the military. Immigrants who meet these criteria are commonly referred to as “DREAMers” because they comprise most (though not all) of the individuals who meet the general requirements of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.Read more...

Published On: Sat, Aug 18, 2012 | Download File

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: A Q&A Guide (Updated)

On June 15, 2012, the Obama administration announced that it will offer “deferred action” to immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and meet other specific requirements. Hailed by immigrant-rights advocates as a bold response to the broken immigration system, the move temporarily eliminates the possibility of deportation for many youths who would qualify for relief under the DREAM Act—thereby giving Congress the space needed to craft a bipartisan solution that gives permanent residence to qualifying young people. This Q&A guide outlines basic facts about the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) initiative, including eligibility requirements and important information on process and timing.

Additional information may be obtained from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by calling (800) 375-5283 or visiting Attorneys and other legal representatives may also wish to consult the practice advisory from the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

What is deferred action?

When an immigrant is granted “deferred action,” it means the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has deemed the individual a low priority for immigration enforcement and has chosen to exercise its discretion and not deport the individual. Deferred action provides temporary relief from enforcement but may be revoked at any time. Deferred action is not amnesty or immunity. It does not provide lawful immigration status or a path to a green card or citizenship. It does not extend to any family members of the person granted deferred action.

Who will be eligible for deferred action?

Published On: Fri, Aug 17, 2012 | Download File

Using the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program for Voter Eligibility Verification

The evidence of non-citizens voting is sparse and appears subject to much exaggeration. Despite this, many states are asking the federal government for access to immigration data in order to determine whether non-citizens are on the voter registration rolls. For instance, in July 2012, the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)—a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—advised the Florida Secretary of State that states, under limited circumstances, may use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program for verification of the citizenship status of registered voters. This issue, however, goes beyond Florida. Other states have expressed an interest in using SAVE in a similar fashion. This new development has heightened misconceptions about the SAVE program and its purpose.

The Immigration Policy Center’s previously issued fact sheet about the SAVE program focuses on whether SAVE can actually verify whether an individual is in the country lawfully or not. This fact sheet focuses on whether the SAVE program can be used to accurately verify voter eligibility. It explains why SAVE is not a database of all non-citizens, why using SAVE to verify the status of individuals who have registered to vote is a misuse of the program, and how using SAVE for this purpose could lead to denying U.S. citizens the right to vote.

What is the SAVE program?

Published On: Thu, Aug 02, 2012 | Download File

Chicken Little in the Voting Booth: The Non-Existent Problem of Non-Citizen “Voter Fraud”

A wave of restrictive voting laws is sweeping the nation. As of May 21, 2012, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law counted “at least 180 restrictive bills introduced since the beginning of 2011 in 41 states.” Bills requiring voters “to show photo identification in order to vote” were signed into law in Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Adding insult to injury, Alabama, Kansas, and Tennessee went a step further and required voters to present proof of U.S. citizenship in order to vote. In addition, Florida, Colorado, and New Mexico have undertaken purges of their voter rolls to sweep away anyone who might be a non-U.S. citizen. Read more...

Published On: Fri, Jul 13, 2012 | Download File

African Immigrants in America: A Demographic Overview

Immigrants from Africa constitute a highly diverse and rapidly growing group in the United States. As Census data demonstrate, the African foreign-born population doubled in size between 2000 and 2010. Nearly half of African immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens, and seven-in-ten speak only English or speak it “very well.” Just under three-quarters of African immigrants are black, while roughly one-fifth are white. The largest numbers of African immigrants are found in California, New York, Texas, Maryland, and Virginia. The top countries of origin for African immigrants are Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, and Kenya. Two-fifths of African immigrants have at least a bachelor’s degree, and more than one-third work in professional jobs. Read more...

Published On: Thu, Jun 28, 2012 | Download File

Economic Benefits of Granting Deferred Action to Unauthorized Immigrants Brought to U.S. as Youth

There are an estimated 1.4 million children and young adults in the United States who might benefit from President Obama’s announcement that the Department of Homeland Security would begin granting deferred action (and Employment Authorization Documents) to unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors. For many of these young people, the United States is the only home they know and English is their first language. Each year, tens of thousands of them graduate from primary or secondary school, often at the top of their classes. They have the potential to be future doctors, nurses, teachers, and entrepreneurs, but their lack of legal status has prevented them from attending college or working legally. The President’s deferred action initiative will provide an opportunity for them to live up to their full potential and, in the process, make greater contributions to the U.S. economy. Read more...

Published On: Fri, Jun 22, 2012 | Download File

Public Education for Immigrant Students: States Challenge Supreme Court’s Decision in Plyler v. Doe

In June 1982, the Supreme Court issued Plyler v. Doe, a landmark decision holding that states cannot constitutionally deny students a free public education on account of their immigration status. By a 5-4 vote, the Court found that any resources which might be saved from excluding undocumented children from public schools were far outweighed by the harms imposed on society at large from denying them an education. Read more...

Published On: Fri, Jun 15, 2012 | Download File

Fatally Flawed: FAIR Blames Immigrants and Children for Maryland’s Financial Problems

In a case of very creative accounting, the nativist Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is blaming immigrants and children for Maryland’s fiscal woes. In a new report, FAIR lumps together unauthorized K-12 immigrant students with U.S.-born students who have unauthorized parents and claims that they are all costing Maryland taxpayers astronomical sums in educational expenditures. However, the report, entitled The Cost of Illegal Immigration to Marylanders, suffers from several fatal flaws. Read more...

Published On: Tue, Jun 12, 2012 | Download File

Prosecutorial Discretion: A Statistical Analysis

In August 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would review more than 300,000 pending removal proceedings to identify low-priority cases meriting favorable exercises of prosecutorial discretion. The initiative was officially launched in November 2011 and is expected to continue for much of 2012. To date, DHS has released statistics on three occasions measuring the progress of the initiative. This fact sheet provides background information about the case-by-case review process and a statistical assessment of those figures. Read more...

Published On: Mon, Jun 11, 2012 | Download File