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Who and Where the DREAMers Are, Revised Estimates

There are roughly 1.8 million immigrants in the United States who might be, or might become, eligible for the Obama Administration’s “deferred action” initiative for unauthorized youth brought to this country as children. This initiative, announced 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. Within this population of potential beneficiaries, however, are three distinct groups:

1.)   Those who are between the ages of 15 and 30 who are either in high school or already have high school diplomas. This group is immediately eligible for deferred action.

2.)   Those between the ages of 5 and 14 who will be eligible at some point in the future if the deferred action initiative remains in place.

3.)   Those between the ages of 15 and 30 who are not in high school and don’t have high school diplomas. Members of this group might be eligible for deferred action if they get a GED.

A previous IPC analysis described in detail the demographic characteristics of the first two of these groups of potential beneficiaries. This analysis captures the third group as well. More precisely, potential beneficiaries are broken down by age, gender, and nationality at the state and national level. In reviewing these numbers, it is important to keep in mind that they are approximations and not precise figures.

Taken as a whole, unauthorized immigrants who qualify for the deferred action initiative 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.  As our analysis shows, 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. Just under half of DREAMers are female. The majority of DREAMers are 15 or older and are eligible to apply for deferred action right now. However, nearly a quarter of DREAMers are 14 or younger and are not yet eligible to apply, but will be eligible at some point in the future if the deferred action initiative still exists. And close to another quarter of the DREAMer population could become eligible for deferred action if they earn a GED. Demographic details such as these should inform the decision-making process of the federal government as it implements the deferred action initiative, as well as community groups assisting the populations they serve in taking advantage of this opportunity.

There are approximately 1.8 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 936,933 immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 might immediately meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative. They comprise 53 percent of all potential beneficiaries {Chart 1}.
  • Approximately 426,329 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 24 percent of all potential beneficiaries {Chart 1}.
  • Roughly 401,280 immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 might meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative at some point in the future if they earn a GED. They comprise 23 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 are California (539,774), Texas (298,133), Florida (106,481), New York (88,889), and Illinois (83,088) {Figure 1}.

Just under half of potential beneficiaries are female.

  • Females comprise 46 percent (808,123) of all potential beneficiaries in the United States {Chart 2}.
  • Females account for only 39 percent (155,650) of those potential beneficiaries who need a GED in order to qualify for deferred action {Chart 2}.

  • Among the top-ten states, the female share of potential beneficiaries ranges from a high of 49 percent in Arizona to a low of 44 percent in New York (Figure 2).

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

  • Roughly 71 percent of potential beneficiaries are Mexican, while 14 percent are from other countries in North and Central America (including the Caribbean) {Figure 3}.
  • Approximately 6 percent of potential beneficiaries are from Asia, 6 percent from South America, 2 percent from Europe, and 1 percent from other parts of the world {Figure 3}.

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 (437,662), Texas (259,880), Illinois (71,619), Arizona (66,301), and Georgia (35,723) {Figure 4 & Chart 3}.

  • The greatest numbers of potential beneficiaries from other countries in North and Central America (including the Caribbean) are found in California (51,454), Florida (38,240), New York (29,654), Texas (24,203), and New Jersey (12,142) {Figure 5 & Chart 3}.

  • The greatest numbers of potential beneficiaries from Asian countries are found in California (37,033), New York (11,275), New Jersey (6,245), Texas (6,184), and Illinois (3,958) {Figure 6 & Chart 3}.

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

  • In California, the largest numbers of potential beneficiaries are from Mexico (437,662), followed by other countries in North and Central America (including the Caribbean) (51,454), and Asia (37,033) {Figure 7 & Chart 3}.

  • In Texas, the largest numbers of potential beneficiaries are from Mexico (259,880), followed by other countries in North and Central America (including the Caribbean) (24,203) and Asia (6,184) {Figure 8 & Chart 3}.

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) (38,240), followed by Mexico (31,879) and South America (30,527) {Figure 9 & Chart 3}.

  • The largest groups of potential beneficiaries in Virginia are from North and Central American countries other than Mexico (including the Caribbean) (9,910), followed by Mexico (5,821), South America (3,940), and Asia (3,846) {Figure 9 & Chart 3}.

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.

Published On: Tue, Oct 16, 2012 | Download File