Immigration in the U.S., on LI by the Numbers

From hundreds of thousands to millions, a breakdown of the various figures cited for the population of young immigrants known as Dreamers and other immigration stats.

The debate over young immigrants known as Dreamers, and the proposed termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, have brought to the forefront a population of teens and young adults who came to the United States as children — either brought to the country illegally or who saw their temporary visas expire after they were in the country.

Various figures are cited to identify the size of the population, ranging from the hundreds of thousands to millions, depending on how they are counted. Even so, the Dreamers don’t constitute the majority of immigrants in the country without authorization, who in turn do not make up the majority of immigrants that call the United States home.


Dreamers currently in the program

This figure is rounded up from about 689,800 people who had current work permits as of September 2017 granted under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. This means they are able to work and study here legally, but their work permits under the program are nearing some expiration date.


The total number of immigrants who have been granted DACA protection

More than 800,000 people have applied for and have been granted DACA since the program’s creation in 2012, as of Jan. 31, 2018. Some of their work permits have expired, and some have not renewed their permits out of fear of immigration enforcement — thus, the lower 690,000 figure. However, they all were protected under DACA and still are in the government database for the program.

The Jan. 9 decision by U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, for the time being, blocked the Trump administration’s plans to phase out DACA safeguards against deportation in a case being heard in San Francisco. That means DACA recipients are being allowed to apply for renewal of DACA protection. At present, because of the court order, those who apply for renewal and still qualify would get another two years of legal protection under the program. On Feb. 13, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis, in a case being heard in Brooklyn, reached a similar conclusion as Alsup in allowing the DACA renewals to continue for those who were already protected under the program.

1.8 million


President Donald Trump cited this figure in his State of the Union address, saying the first pillar of his immigration framework “generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age.”

It’s not clear where this number came from.

Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has said the 1.8 million figure includes everyone who could have qualified for DACA, even those who did not apply. His comment was controversial because of how he put it: “The difference between [690,000] and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up.”

About 11 million

Immigrants out of status

Anyone following immigration issues also is likely to run into the 11 million figure for the total of the unauthorized population, though that estimate has decreased to 10.8 million as of 2016, according to the Center for Migration Studies in Manhattan. This figure represents the best estimate of the overall population of immigrants who are out of status, or living in the U.S. illegally. It includes DACA recipients, Dreamers, immigrant adults and unaccompanied minors, as well as people whose visas expired and didn’t leave — whether they initially came legally on temporary visas and fell out of status or they crossed the borders and entered through U.S. ports unlawfully from the get-go.

This is a widely accepted figure that uses statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, visa records from the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, federal government economic surveys and calculations of margins of errors in those numbers.


Immigrants out of status on Long Island

Out of the 11 million, 850,000 immigrants in New York State are out of status. The Migration Policy Institute estimates 51,000 of those are in Suffolk County and 48,000 are in Nassau County, giving us about 99,000 immigrants without status on Long Island.

42.2 million

Immigrants in the United States

For a fuller perspective, there are an estimated 42.2 million immigrants in United States. That includes those who are here legally and illegally. Of that total, on Long Island, there are about 296,000 immigrants in Nassau and about 231,000 immigrants in Suffolk, according to the latest four-year average from Census surveys.