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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.

Other analyses have produced national and state-level estimates of how many immigrants could benefit from the deferred action initiative. However, the analysis by the IPC, together with Rob Paral & Associates, provides a new level of detail, breaking down the DREAMer population by nationality and age at the national and state level (as well as the congressional district level). Not surprisingly, most DREAMers are Mexican and are found in big immigrant-receiving states with large unauthorized populations, such as California and Texas. Yet DREAMers are also found in virtually every state, and significant numbers are non-Mexicans who hail from all corners of the globe. The majority of DREAMers are 15 or older and are therefore eligible to apply for deferred action right now. However, there are also large numbers who are 14 or younger and are not yet eligible to apply, but who will be eligible at some point in the future if the deferred action initiative remains in place. These sorts of demographic details are important as the federal government gears up to implement the deferred action initiative, and as community groups prepare to assist the populations they serve in taking advantage of this opportunity.

There are approximately 1.4 million immigrants currently in the United States who might meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative, either now or when they are older.

  • Roughly 936,930 immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 might immediately meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative. They comprise 69 percent of all potential beneficiaries {Chart 1}.
  • Approximately 426,330 immigrants between the ages of 5 and 14 might meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative at some point in the future if the initiative remains in place. They comprise 31 percent of all potential beneficiaries {Chart 1}.

    Chart 1: Potential Beneficiaries by State

 

Nearly half of potential beneficiaries live in California and Texas, but there are significant numbers in other states across the country.

  • The states with the most potential beneficiaries (both immediate and future) are California (412,560), Texas (226,700), Florida (85,750), New York (70,170), and Illinois (67,460) {Figure 1}.

Nearly seven-tenths of potential beneficiaries are Mexican, but immigrants who might be eligible come from all corners of the globe.

  • Roughly 68 percent of potential beneficiaries are Mexican, while 13 percent are from other countries in North and Central America (including the Caribbean) {Figure 2}.
  • Approximately 8 percent of potential beneficiaries are from Asia, 7 percent from South America, 2 percent from Europe, and 2 percent from other parts of the world {Figure 2}.

 

Potential beneficiaries from different parts of the world are distributed differently across the country.

  • The greatest numbers of potential beneficiaries from Mexico are found in California (326,250), Texas (196,130), Illinois (56,850), Arizona (49,860), and Georgia (25,590) {Figure 3 & Appendix}.

  • The greatest numbers of potential beneficiaries from other countries in North and Central America (including the Caribbean) are found in California (37,210), Florida (30,590), New York (22,840), Texas (16,910), and New Jersey (9,570) {Figure 4 & Appendix}.

  • The greatest numbers of potential beneficiaries from Asian countries are found in California (35,950), New York (10,850), New Jersey (6,120), Texas (6,120), and Illinois (3,900) {Figure 5 & Appendix}.

In the biggest immigrant-receiving states, Mexicans predominate among potential beneficiaries.

  • In California, the largest numbers of potential beneficiaries are from Mexico (326,250), followed by other countries in North and Central America (including the Caribbean) (37,210) and Asia (35,950) {Figure 6 & Appendix}.

  • In Texas, the largest numbers of potential beneficiaries are from Mexico (196,130), followed by other countries in North and Central America (including the Caribbean) (16,910) and Asia (6,120) {Figure 7 & Appendix}.

In other states, Mexicans do not predominate among potential beneficiaries.

  • In Florida, the largest numbers of potential beneficiaries are from North and Central American countries other than Mexico (including the Caribbean) (30,590), followed by South America (29,160) and Mexico (20,460) {Figure 8 & Appendix}.

  • The largest groups of potential beneficiaries in Virginia are from North and Central American countries other than Mexico (including the Caribbean) (7,140), followed by Mexico (4,110), South America (3,800), and Asia (3,720) {Figure 9 & Appendix}.

Appendix: Potential Beneficiaries by State and Country/Region of Origin


Methodology Used by
Rob Paral and Associates

Estimating Immigration Status of Countries and Regions of Origin

  • Develop estimates of unauthorized populations for 10 countries of origin from the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; develop five-year estimate using 2006-2010 annual reports from OIS.
  • Develop estimates of unauthorized populations for residual world regions based on the 2010 OIS report.
  • Tabulate numbers of foreign-born noncitizens for these same 10 countries and residual world regions using the American Community Survey (ACS) 2006-2010 Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS).
  • Estimate rate of unauthorized immigrants in the ACS data by dividing the OIS unauthorized numbers by ACS 2006-2010 PUMS noncitizen estimates. Use country- and region-specific rates to re-weight PUMS records of noncitizens.

Define Persons Potentially Eligible

  • Determine universe of persons potentially eligible for deferred action by using eligibility specifications described in Secretary Napolitano memorandum of June 15, 2012.
  • Tabulate ACS data by country/region of origin, age, school enrollment, educational attainment, citizenship and year of entry to the United States to correspond to the policy memorandum.

Allocate State Estimates to Congressional Districts

  • Allocate state-level estimates by country and region of origin to Congressional Districts on the following bases:
  • For all countries and regions excluding Mexico, proportionally allocate into Congressional Districts on basis of foreign-born population by country/region, using 2006-2010 ACS data.
  • For Mexico only, the ACS provides summary-level data on period of entry by citizenship. Estimated unauthorized Mexican noncitizens aged 5-14 were allocated on basis of noncitizen Mexicans who arrived since year 2000. Estimated unauthorized Mexican noncitizens aged 15-30 were allocated on basis of noncitizen Mexicans who arrived in the 1990s. These periods were chosen based on analysis of median year of entry for these age cohorts at the national level; Mexican noncitizens aged 5-14 have a median entry year of 2000, and those aged 15-30 have a median year of 1995.

Comparison to Other Estimates

Migration Policy Institute in Washington, DC published a set of state-level estimates of the population potentially eligible for deferred action. Our estimates are close to those of MPI, as seen below. Differences between the estimates are due to important differences in methodology. The MPI estimates are based on three years (2008-2010) of Current Population Survey estimates assigned unique weights by the Pew Hispanic Center; the RPA estimates are based on five years (2006-2010) of the American Community Survey. Definitions of those eligible may also be different. At the national level, however, the two sets of estimates are within two percent of each other.

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

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