Mind Blowing Fact #1:
Almost 84% of Latinos living in the United States are here legally yet are defined by the small minority of Latino illegal immigrants that reside here.
Mind Blowing Fact #2:
It is significantly more accurate to say that a majority of illegal immigrants in the United States are Latino than it is to say that a majority of Latinos living in the United States are illegal immigrants.
*think of fact #2 this way: All illegal immigrants in the United States are Latino but not all Latinos in the United States are illegal immigrants. This is a sweeping generalization but it is almost true since about 79% of all illegal immigrants in the United States come from Latin America and I’m trying to simplify this fact since it’s a bit confusing initially. Think about it slowly though. I know it takes a while to process fact #2 but its true and read on to find out why.
In mainstream media, Latino and illegal immigrant are synonymous. I wanted to see how true this was considering every Latino I know are United States citizens. So I did a little research and was equally shocked as well as confused (initially at least) once I wrapped my head around the statistics. Look at the table below:
According to this table, between the number of U.S. born Latinos and foreign-born Latino U.S. citizens there is a little over 41 million meaning roughly 76% of Latinos living in the United States do so legally. But then I wanted to know exactly what ‘non-citizen’ meant and if it included even more law-abiding Latinos.
When I looked at the term ‘non-citizen’ I wanted to know how it was legally defined. My main question was if non-citizen equated to illegal immigrant. Turns out it doesn’t. The term ‘non-citizen’ is not used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services but rather ‘alien’. The USCIS defines the term ‘alien’ as “an individual who is not a U.S. citizen or U.S. national”. Non-citizen=alien after all my investigating. So basically, there 23.7% of Latinos that are ‘aliens’ within the United States. But what does that even mean?
Off to Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School I went to continue my research. LII is a site that publishes U.S. law for free and facilitates not only finding law but understanding it. Referring to the LII, I came to find that there are different types of aliens. According to Wex (LII’s legal dictionary) , “There are different categories of aliens: resident and nonresident, immigrant and non-immigrant, asylee and refugee, documented and undocumented (“illegal”).” After reading that, the 23.7% Latino non-citizen statistic started making a bit more sense now. I understood that the 23.7% of Latino non-citizens living within the United States could still have legal status but how many did was my next question. So now my final question was figuring out how many Latino undocumented aliens live in the United States.
This final question lead me to first investigate how many individuals are living in the United States illegally. The estimates of this number ranged between 7 million to 30 million since it is hard to track people who naturally are ‘living in the shadows’ as they say since they are breaking the law. It turns out that there is an estimated 11.2 million people, not Latinos, living in the United States illegally. Check out the table below:
Crunching the numbers, about 79% or 8.8 million of all illegal immigrants are from Latin America and live in the United States illegally.
Remember the 23.7% or 12,791,033 Latino non-citizens in the beginning? Roughly 8.8 million Latinos out of 12,791,033 Latino non-citizens are illegal aliens as defined by U.S. law leaving about 3,991,033 law-abiding Latino non-citizens. So, adding the U.S. born Latino population with the foreign-born citizen Latino population and the foreign-born non-citizen (yet law-abiding) Latino population yields 45,164,235 or 83.7% of Latinos living in the United States legally under U.S. law!
If anything should define Latinos it should be ‘law abiding’ instead of ‘criminals’!!
How is it that 8.8 million people came to define a staggering 47 million (Total Latino population-population of Latino illegal immigrant)?!