The American Immigration Law Foundation has released new analysis of the 2005 American Community Survey from the US Census Bureau. Breaking down the number of undocumented immigrants for each congressional district, and their percentage of population, the study compares statistics from 2000 and 2005, looking at which districts saw the greatest increases and decreases in undocumented population during the period.
Over the past year, Congress has debated major changes to immigration law as a response to undocumented immigration. While this debate has relied heavily upon estimates of undocumented immigration at the national level, less attention has been paid to the number of undocumented immigrants in local areas—and almost no analyses have considered the size and scope of undocumented immigration in each of the 435 congressional districts. Yet the size of the undocumented population in each congressional district is an important consideration in gauging whether or not a representative’s stance on a particular immigration policy or initiative has a basis in the actual, local impact of undocumented immigration.
ALIF, Immigration Policy Brief
An earlier IPC analysis " Playing Politics on Immigration: Congress Favors Image over Substance in Passing H.R. 4437" used the 2000 census numbers to see the correlation between those who voted for the enforcement-only immigration bill passed by the House and the undocumented populations in their districts. The study showed that the number of undocumented immigrants was surprisingly low in the districts of key representatives who supported the bill.
Not surprisingly, this new analysis confirms the findings of the previous study. Representatives with the smallest percentage of undocumented immigrants in their districts tended to be some of the most rapid supporters of restricting immigration. In some cases their districts actually had the same number or fewer undocumented immigrants in 2005 than they did in 2000 despite national trends to the opposite.
tags: immigration, demographics undocumented immigrants , WI-05 , NY-03, AILF
WI-05, the home district of Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R), sponsor of HR4437, saw no increase in undocumented immigrants over the five year period. His district held steady at 4,000 undocumented immigrants. At 0.6% of population it was one of the lowest in the nation and far below the 3.88% national average.
Co-sponsor of the bill, Peter King (NY-03) actually saw his district lose undocumented population over the study period. In 2000, his district had 9000 undocumented immigrants, or 1.4% of population. By 2005 that number decreased by 22% to 7000 or 1.1% of population. This represented by far the smallest number of undocumented immigrants in any down-state New York district where many districts have well over 50,000 undocumented immigrants in residence.
Another district that lost undocumented population was IA-05. This district, represented by Steven King(R) who early this year led the effort to block the renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act on the grounds that it contained provisions for bi-lingual ballot and voting information, lost 1000 undocumented residents over the period. The loss brought the number down to 6000, or 0.9% of population.
Over the last five years over 3 million undocumented immigrants entered the country; nationally the increase represents a 40% increase. Yet in many of the districts represented by the most ardent proponents of closed borders, criminalization of the undocumented and restrictions on further immigration, the increased undocumented population falls far below the national average.
Conversely, in the AILF's earlier analysis, representatives from those districts with the greatest percentage of undocumented immigrants tended to vote against HR4437 and favored a more comprehensive form of immigration legislation. This is confirmed again in the new analysis of the 2005 data.
It has been speculated from the start that the "immigration crisis" has far more to do with political expedience than true concern for real reform of the broken immigration system. It is no small wonder that after more than a year of banging the immigration drums the House Republicans have yet to deliver any real reform or legislative success. When viewed in light of the actual numbers it becomes obvious that the immigration issue has far more to do with demagoguery than demographics.
The complete findings of the analysis can be viewed here