Nearly 1 in 5 Illegal Immigrants Live in NYC and LA Areas

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -
Border Patrol agents detain a man crossing illegally into the United States along the Mexican border near Calexico, California, on Wednesday. (Reuters/Mike Blake)

A report released Thursday estimates more than 2.5 million immigrants in the country illegally live in the metropolitan areas of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, which have pledged to fight President Trump’s plans to expand deportations.

The study by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center provides a glimpse of where immigrants in the country illegally reside and regions that could be most affected by Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

It also underscores the challenges President Donald Trump could face in rounding up large numbers of deportees because governments of many areas that are home to large numbers of illegal immigrants oppose his plans.

Any actions by the new administration could be even more widely felt among immigrant communities in regions such as Phoenix, Houston, Dallas and Denver. In these areas, 37 percent of immigrants are in the country illegally, compared to 26 percent nationwide, the report said.

Immigrants in Phoenix are already starting to see tougher enforcement. A woman in the country illegally who was not targeted for deportation under the Obama administration was taken into custody Wednesday and sent back to Mexico, unleashing protests at a local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

The Pew report estimates there are 11.1 million immigrants in the country illegally — or 3.5 percent of the overall U.S. population.

About 17 percent of immigrants in the San Francisco area lack legal status, compared with 35 percent in the region surrounding Las Vegas.

The report by the Washington-based center was based on 2014 Census Bureau data.

Cities and counties are immersed in a fierce debate over what role, if any, they should play in immigration enforcement as Trump seeks help from local law enforcement to boost deportations and threatens to cut off funding from so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to assist.

Many large cities including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago have pledged to fight back and not cooperate with requests for assistance from federal deportation agents.

The Pew report looked at large metropolitan areas. Many of the local sanctuary policies cover specific cities within those regions.

About 61 percent of immigrants in the country illegally live in 20 metropolitan areas, the report said.