Posted by: Latinos Progresando
January 24, 2015
[Photo Credit] Terrence Antonio James, Chicago Tribune
By Katherine Skiba and Lexy Gross
January 15, 2015, 4:00 AM | Washington
President Barack Obama’s orders to spare some immigrants from deportation could apply to about 225,000 people in the Chicago area, according to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute.
In an analysis released Thursday, the Washington think tank estimated there are 322,000 immigrants in Cook County who lack permission to be in the U.S. That’s about 1 in 16 residents of Cook County, based on recent population counts.
Only two counties in the U.S. have more: Los Angeles County, Calif., and Harris County, Texas, where Houston is the county seat, according to Randy Capps, the institute’s director of research for U.S. programs.
The new analysis found 155,000 of the residents who are undocumented in Cook County — or 48 percent of the estimated total — could be eligible for two “deferred action” programs ordered by Obama. The estimated number eligible was 22,000 in Lake County, 22,000 in Kane, 16,000 in DuPage and 11,000 in Will.
The president announced in November an expansion of a program for temporary relief from deportation for “dreamers,” immigrants illegally in the U.S. after arriving as children. He had unveiled the program in 2012 for children who had arrived in the U.S. under the age of 16, lived in the U.S. for at least five years and met educational and public safety criteria. Last November, the president lifted the requirement that applicants be 30 or younger to apply and he extended their deportation relief from two years to three, said Michelle Mittelstadt, the institute’s director of communications.
The president in November also authorized a new program for people who have lived in this country for at least five years and are parents of either U.S. citizens or long-term permanent residents.
That second program has come as welcome news to Abril Millan, 20, who lives on the Southwest Side in the Gage Park neighborhood and works at Latinos Progresando, which provides legal and social resources to families in the Chicago area.
Millan said she and a sister were born in this country after her parents came here from Mexico illegally in 1993. Because of the children’s citizenship, their parents are eligible to seek deferred status, she said.
The parents’ illegal status has been a challenge, Millan said.
“It’s hard for them to sustain the family,” she said. “My dad’s been the only one working, but he’s been coming across issues — they don’t take him because he doesn’t have documentation to work.”
Carolina Rivera, 41, a waitress, said she also would benefit from the new program.
She said she has been living undocumented in Chicago since 1992, when she and her husband arrived with plans to stay in the U.S. for a few years, earn money and go back to build a house in Mexico. But their three children were born here, and when their oldest started school, she decided to stay because of the U.S. educational system.
“We want her to study here because the education is better,” she said.
Rivera said her husband was deported in 2011, but she expects to qualify for deferred action because her children are citizens.
The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute estimated last fall that Illinois had 560,000 people without documentation. Its new analysis says Cook County is where nearly three fifths of them live.
About 70 percent of the Cook County immigrants without legal documents were born in Mexico, 4 percent in Poland, 3 percent in India, 3 percent in Guatemala and 2 percent in Ecuador.
Mexico remained the top country of origin in the outlying counties analyzed, accounting for 93 percent of the undocumented people in Kane County, 80 percent in Lake, 78 percent in Will and 63 percent in DuPage.
Eight percent of the people without documents in DuPage County were born in India, the analysis found.
The statewide look estimated that 73 percent of the people in Illinois without legal status were from Mexico, with 3 percent from India, 3 percent from Poland, 2 percent from Guatemala and 2 percent from China.
The institute’s Capps said the analysis was done in part to help immigration advocates reach out to the people who meet the criteria to apply for relief from deportations. “It’s useful to states and local governments, to mayors, to know more about their populations of immigrants,” Capps said.
Rocio Alcantar, a supervising attorney for the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago, welcomed the analysis.
“The reason why these numbers are great is so we can have them for our purposes and planning,” Alcantar said. “So, for instance, the fact that 70 percent are from Mexico might indicate that people who qualify might be Spanish speakers, so that could help us with staff concerns.”
The state and county estimates were drawn from an analysis of two Census Bureau surveys. One is the annual American Community Survey, which gives detailed estimates of immigrant populations at the state and local level, but does not identify which immigrants are here legally and which are not, Capps said.
The other is a smallerscale data set last compiled in 2008, he said. It is the Survey of Income and Program Participation, which includes questions on whether immigrants have legal status, Capps said.
The expansion of the “dreamers” program is expected to begin next month, and the program for parents is likely to start around May, Mittelstadt said.
Rivera, the waitress who expects deportation relief because her children are citizens, was asked whether she was worried that the situation might change after Obama leaves office.
“I am not afraid because of what I have here,” said Rivera, who is active in the Southwest Organizing Project, a Chicago community group. “Even if the president isn’t there any longer, if he decides to revoke it … the government doesn’t have the resources to deport all of the people who will apply.”
Earlier this summer, Mayor Rahm Emanuel created the Advisory Council for the Office of New Americans,...
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