Authors are listed in alphabetical order. The New Immigrant Survey Pilot research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NICHD and NIA) under grant HD33843, with partial support from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the National Science Foundation. Early versions of portions of this paper were presented at the Conference on “The Effects of Immigrant Legalization Programs on the United States: Scientific Evidence on Immigrant Adaptation and Impacts on the U.S. Economy and Society,” sponsored by NICHD, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the U.S. Census Bureau, September 2002, and at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Atlanta, Georgia, August 2003. We are grateful to participants at those meetings and other colleagues for many valuable comments and suggestions, especially Rebecca Clark, Linda Gordon, Michael Hoefer, Carolyn Jones, Jennifer Martin, Lisa S. Roney, Marian L. Smith, and Robert Warren; and we thank the anonymous reviewers and editors for their close reading and valuable comments. We also gratefully acknowledge the intellectual and financial support of New York University, Princeton University, the RAND Corporation, and Yale University.
In March 2003, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) ceased to exist. The agency's statistical activities, housed in the Statistics Division, were transferred to the new Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) in the Management Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These estimates of the illegal population were developed first at INS and subsequently at DHS. The estimates in the DHS 2002 Yearbook are a summary of a comprehensive report prepared by Warren (2003).
The acronym LPR will be used for both lawful permanent resident and lawful permanent residence. The context should make clear whether reference is to a person or to a status.
Immigration figures refer to the total, non-IRCA-legalization number of new LPRs. This number was reported as “total non-legalization” in Table 4 of the INS and DHS Yearbooks through the 2004 Yearbook. The Yearbooks for 2005 and 2006 do not report the non-IRCA-legalization total, but it is possible to obtain it by subtracting the IRCA legalization total from the grand total in Table 7. During the period 1991–2006 IRCA legalizations declined from a high of over a million in 1991 to less than a thousand in every year since 1998, with a low of 8 in 1999 and totals of 188 and 217 in Fiscal Years 2005 and 2006, respectively (DHS Yearbooks, Table 4 through 2004, Table 7 thereafter).
In contrast to the estimates of net annual increases to the illegal population, the number of new LPRs does not represent a net addition to the population of LPRs (and LPRs who have naturalized), as immigrants admitted in earlier years may have emigrated or died (or had their permanent residence revoked).
There are many a priori reasons to expect variation across cohort – conditions in origin countries change, U.S. immigration laws and policies change, and sometimes there are pivotal events, such as the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 (Jasso, 2004).
Early information from the baseline round of the Pilot for the New Immigrant Survey (Jasso et al., 2000b:135–137) indicates, for example, that new legal immigrants with experience as an entry without inspection differ from other immigrants in schooling, earnings, earnings gain, and travel outside the United States before acquiring LPR.
IRCA-legalized immigrants appear to have had many positive outcomes. As discussed by Powers and Seltzer (1998) and Powers, Kraly, and Seltzer (2004), the IRCA-legalized have experienced upward occupational mobility, relative to both jobs in the origin country and jobs while illegal in the United States.
We do not consider other types of illegality – such as illegality due to being inadmissible. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, there are currently ten classes of grounds of inadmissibility; these cover such matters as health, crime, and security.
We do not consider the less common channels of legalization, such as being the beneficiary of a private bill in Congress.
Registry provisions provide for the adjustment to LPR of persons who have resided continuously in the United States since a given date; currently, that date is set at January 1, 1972. Cancellation of removal, together with the kindred suspension of deportation provisions in effect before 1997, similarly provide for adjustment to LPR. On these and other provisions of immigration law, further information may be found at the State Department and USCIS Web sites, <http://www.unitedstatesvisas.gov> and <http://www.uscis.gov>.
The annual statistical reports were titled Annual Report of the Immigration and Naturalization Service until 1977, Statistical Yearbook of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the years 1978–2001, and Yearbook of Immigration Statistics since 2002.
Public-use administrative microdata on the annual immigrant cohorts for Fiscal Years 1972–2000 are available for sale by the National Technical Information Service.
Brief overviews of U.S. laws governing immigrant visa allocation may be found in the INS and DHS Yearbooks, in the USCIS and State Department Web sites, and in numerous books and articles (e.g., Smith and Edmonston, 1997; Jasso, Rosenzweig, and Smith, 2000).
Moreover, IRCA instituted stringent confidentiality provisions, so that immigrant records pertaining to IRCA-legalized persons are not part of public-use administrative microdata or of the sampling frame for the New Immigrant Survey cohort samples. For example, the FY 1996 public-use administrative microdata exclude the records for 4,635 IRCA-legalized persons; these include not only the pre-1982 and agricultural subsets but also the extended voluntary departure subset. In contrast, persons who legalized under the Cuban-Haitian entrant provisions of IRCA (1996 Yearbook, p. A3-3) are included in the public-use administrative microdata (and listed under “other adjustments” in the 1996 Yearbook, Table 7, p. 41).
Some immigrants classified by INS/CIS as “new arrival” immigrants are already residing in the United States when they obtain LPR; they are eligible for an immigrant visa but ineligible to adjust to LPR in the United States, for example, because they are not currently in a legal status. Such individuals go to a U.S. consular office abroad to obtain their immigrant documents and then are admitted to LPR at a port of entry. Survey data, such as NIS data, can identify whether residence and/or employment in the United States precedes the date of admission to LPR of a new-arrival immigrant.
Warren (n.d.) uses this information to infer previous illegal experience, reasoning that in most cases nonimmigrant visas would not be valid for periods longer than six years.
Succinct overview of the New Immigrant Survey may be found in Jasso et al. (2003, forthcoming) and in Jasso (2008).
As discussed in Jasso et al. (2000b), the number of interviewed adult immigrants was 1,130; however, three of the interviewed adults lived in Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, and because the sampling properties of these cases differ from the rest of the sample, they are excluded from the analysis.
We carried out two sets of contrasts: (1) between immigrants admitted in July and August (the basis for the NIS-P sample) and immigrants admitted in the other ten months of FY 1996, using public-use administrative microdata for the cohort; and (2) between immigrants drawn into the NIS-P sample and immigrants who completed interviews (this last contrast reported in Jasso et al., 2000b:130). Both contrasts focused on immigrants aged 18 and older. There are no appreciable differences in most characteristics; for example, the percent male is 43.8 percent in the July–August adult immigrant population and 44.4 percent in the other ten months, and it is the same (44.7 percent) in both the full sample and the interviewed. The largest differences are as follows: The percent born in Mexico is higher by two percentage points in the July–August subcohort (16.9 percent versus 14.9 percent) but about the same among the interviewed and noninterviewed sampled immigrants (15.0 percent and 15.1 percent). The percent entering as spouse of U.S. citizen is greater by three percentage points in the July–August subcohort (27.9 percent versus 24.6 percent); it is higher by one percentage point among the interviewed (28.8 percent versus 27.7 percent). The proportion with the WI nonimmigrant code is greater by two percentage points in the July–August subcohort (14.3 percent versus 12.3 percent); however, it is one percentage point less among the interviewed than in the full sample (12.3 percent versus 13.3 percent). Thus, there are no appreciable differences in most characteristics in the two contrasts. (Note that the proportions among the larger set of immigrants of all ages or among different subsets may differ from the proportions just discussed. For example, the percent born in Mexico among new LPRs is larger among children than among adults.)
For the majority of NIS-P respondents, the “last trip” prior to interview was taken after admission to permanent residence (there being, presumably, pent-up demand for a trip abroad); thus, this question yielded few EWI cases.
Within this 13 percent of new arrivals at risk of unmeasured EWI experience, a little under a quarter (23 percent) register other kinds of illegal experience.
Within this group, 15 percent register other kinds of illegal experience.
In drawing inferences about previous unauthorized employment, care must be taken to ensure that the date the current job started pertains to a job in the United States. It is possible for new legal immigrants to retain a job in their previous country, and such a job, of course, would provide no evidence of unauthorized employment in the United States.
Countries whose nationals were eligible for temporary protected status in the years before 1996 were Bosnia and Herzegovina (since 1992), Rwanda (since 1994), and Somalia (since 1991).
Put differently, the type of illegal experience is unknown for the registry and suspension-of-deportation/cancellation-of-removal immigrants, and we make no inference about it; however, given the notion that the UU code may signal EWI experience, for the convenience of the reader, we report separately the subset with a UU code and the subset with a code other than EWI or UU. As will be seen below (Table 2), the proportions in these subsets of unspecified illegal experience are minuscule.
As noted in section 2 and evident in Table 2, the measures on which our estimates are based do not include the following three kinds of measures: (1) administrative measures based on special legalization programs (because the NIS-P sampling frame excludes the small set of IRCA immigrants); (2) the measure based on the UU nonimmigrant code; and (3) the indirect measure of overstay experience based on the nonimmigrant class and date (Warren, n.d.). However, below we examine how inclusion of the UU and indirect overstay measure would alter the estimates.
Throughout the paper we present point estimates, reporting confidence intervals only for the major measures.
There are inconsistencies in 20 new-arrival cases in the NIS-P data. In these cases, the date (month and year) the immigrant reports entering for the very first time is the same as (or, in five cases, later than) the date of admission to LPR (which is on the official immigrant record and formed the basis for drawing the sample). In seventeen of these cases the immigrant also reports that the entry that first time was without documents, and in three cases, the immigrant reports having visa overstay experience (one of the latter also reporting having been apprehended by INS). Because an undocumented entry or a visa overstay would be more likely to be remembered correctly than the date of first entry, we code these 20 cases based on the EWI or overstay information. However, for each global measure of type of illegal experience and for the total estimate, we note the corresponding figure if the 20 cases did not in fact have illegal experience.
If the 20 cases with the inconsistency are excluded, the estimate of the proportion with EWI experience is 17.4 percent, a reduction of 1.8 percentage points.
The question on visa overstay experience was asked at the 12-month round; it was asked only of respondents who indicated that they had been in the United States prior to obtaining LPR. The proportion of these respondents who responded in the affirmative is 17.6 percent; the proportion of all the 12-month respondents who said they had overstay experience is 9.7 percent.
If the 20 cases with the previously discussed inconsistency are excluded, the estimate of the proportion with visa overstay experience is 11.5 percent, a reduction of less than half a percentage point.
The question on apprehension was asked at the 12-month round; like the question on overstay experience, it was asked only of respondents who indicated they had been in the United States before achieving LPR. The proportion of these respondents who answered in the affirmative is 3.7 percent; the proportion among all the 12-month respondents who indicated they had been apprehended is 2.0 percent. This small proportion raises the question whether illegals who are successful in becoming LPRs are also successful in eluding apprehension. Alternatively, there may be a special stigma associated with apprehension such that respondents may be reluctant to reveal this part of their history.
If the 20 cases with the inconsistency are excluded, the estimate of total previous illegal experience is 29.5 percent, a reduction of 2.2 percentage points.
Two reasons account for the small increase: (1) the total number of cases with B2 or WT nonimmigrant codes and year of entry prior to 1990 is small (51 cases); and (2) almost two-thirds (65.5 percent) of them register previous illegal experience in one or more of the other measures.
All estimates in this section and the next are based on our preferred basic estimates –i.e., based on one year of adjustment processing and excluding the UU and indirect visa overstay measures.
The backlog in the visa category for spouses of permanent resident aliens ensures that all new immigrants in this category have been married more than two years.
Among the Mexico-born spouse-of-U.S.-citizen immigrants, there is a substantial schooling differential between the old-married and the newly married, suggesting that the old-married are more likely to be sponsored by IRCA-legalized aliens (Jasso et al., 2000a:452–454).
Of course, the U.S. citizen sponsors of newlywed spouses may include some IRCA-legalized individuals. Approximately 38 percent of the pre-1982 legalization subset were single or otherwise unattached during the first phase of legalization (U.S. INS, 1992:21). Eventually they would be able to choose a mate from among several subsets, including native-born U.S. citizens but including as well three subsets in need of visa sponsorship: foreign-born individuals residing outside the United States; foreign-born individuals with a valid temporary visa in the United States; and foreign-born individuals illegally in the United States. Only marriages to individuals in the last subset would produce an IRCA effect in the estimated proportion with previous illegal experience, among newlywed spouses of U.S. citizens.
Below we take a different tack, assessing the top origin countries among the formerly illegal.
These figures include visas for spouses and children of employment principals.
Of course, persons with low schooling levels also qualify for an immigrant visa. Persons whose grown children have made successful lives in the United States can immigrate as parents of U.S. citizens, without regard to schooling; refugees are welcomed, without regard to schooling; and spouses of highly schooled principals need not be highly schooled themselves.
The NIS-P estimates are even more similar to INS's (DHS Yearbook, 2002:214) earlier estimate that in October 1996 approximately 59 percent of the unauthorized population consisted of EWIs and 41 percent of visa overstays.