REUTERS/David McNew

A new Pew report estimates the undocumented immigrant population in cities throughout the U.S. and finds that just 20 metros are home to 60 percent of them.

There are an estimated 11.1 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Of those, 6.8 million, or 61 percent, live in just 20 metro areas, a new Pew analysis finds—a very high concentration, considering only 36 percent of the total U.S. population lives in these areas.

(Pew Research Center)

According to the report, undocumented immigrants accounted for just 3.5 percent of the total U.S. population in 2014, and for about 26 percent of foreign-born residents.

As is perhaps expected, the analysis found that undocumented immigrants tend to live among lawful immigrants. Sixty-five percent of naturalized citizens and authorized noncitizen immigrants live in these same 20 metros. The largest populations of undocumented immigrants were found in New York, at 1.2 million, and Los Angeles, at 1 million. Nowhere else came even close to these numbers: Houston, the next runner-up, clocked in at just 575,000. Five of the top 20 metros were found in California (Los Angeles, Riverside-San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Diego, and San Jose).

(Pew Research Center)

The report uses information from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from 2014, the most recent year for which data is available. But the analysis finds that the geographic breakdown has remained consistent, with 19 of the top 20 metros for undocumented immigrants remaining on the list for the past decade.

This geography could be significant over the next four years, as the Trump administration gears up to deport potentially millions of undocumented immigrants. Several of the cities on this list are so-called sanctuaries, or municipalities that in some way limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants. In two sweeping executive orders signed at the end of January, President Trump promised, among other things, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, cutting off their federal grant money. One order specifies that such municipalities “are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary.”

It will likely end up being legally and logistically difficult for Trump to carry out that threat, and his order doesn’t spell out a way to get it done. But it’s certainly within the realm of possibility, and given the potential scope of the financial loss, some of these cities could start to cave to the pressure. In fact, Miami, number five on this list, already has.

Trump’s orders also call for the immediate construction of his controversial border wall and the ramping up of border security, with 5,000 more border patrol agents and triple the current number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. That adds up to nearly 16,000 ICE officers—all of whom could very well turn out to be an imminent presence in the metros where immigrants live.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of anti-gentrification graffiti in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    The Hidden Winners in Neighborhood Gentrification

    A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

  2. Little kids under a blanket.
    Perspective

    How U.S. Child Care Is Segregated: a Brooklyn Story

    At a daycare in a gentrifying Brooklyn area, is the entrance of racially diverse, middle-class families income integration, or more akin to colonization?

  3. People wait in line, holding tote bags in the sunshine, outside a job fair.
    Equity

    How 3 Skill Sets Explain U.S. Economic Geography

    Metro areas in the U.S. with higher cognitive and people skills, versus motor skills, perform better economically and are more resilient during downturns.

  4. The Cincinnati skyline and river
    Life

    Maps Reveal Where the Creative Class Is Growing

    “The rise of the rest” may soon become a reality as once-lagging cities see growth of creative class employment.

  5. Equity

    Berlin’s Plan to Preserve Affordable Apartments: Buy Them

    To ward off rent hikes and evictions at the hands of new building owners, the city will purchase about 700 homes the much-coveted Karl Marx Allee neighborhood.

×