The immigrants to benefit from Obama’s executive action may not be who you think they are
As critics of President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration reform make threats and amp up anti-immigrant rhetoric, FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Casselman notes that the perception of who will be affected by the action is different from the reality.
The total number of undocumented immigrants in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center, is 11.3 million — which is down from 12.2 million in 2007. This means that in the past five years, the number of unauthorized immigrants exiting the country — of their own accord or by deportation — has outpaced the number who have entered.
Immigration from Mexico, in particular, has been falling since the recession began, as many of those people sought jobs in the struggling home construction industry. But even before the recession, tighter border security and a falling Mexican birthrate had already begun to slow the flow of migrants across the United States’ southern border.
Although unauthorized Mexican immigrants still represent a slim fifty-two percent majority of all unauthorized immigrants, the actual number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants has been declining.
The new and growing group of undocumented immigrants enter the country legally on tourist or student visas, then never left — and most of these people are from Asia and Latin America. However, since the majority of these unauthorized immigrants have not been in the country for more than 5 years, they are not eligible to benefit from the president’s executive action.
The majority of those unauthorized immigrants who will are those that a 2006 Pew Survey identified as “more settled,” meaning that they have been in the country for an average of 13 years.
Because of this, Pew estimates that of the unauthorized immigrants who will qualify for deportation relief, two-thirds of them will be of Mexican origin.