November 20, 2014

Those from Mexico will benefit most from Obama’s executive action

Unauthorized immigrants from Mexico account for two-thirds of those who will be eligible for deportation relief under President Obama’s executive action, even as they account for about half of the nation’s unauthorized population, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

The new action, which mainly applies to unauthorized immigrant parents of U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident children, would benefit those born in Mexico more than any other country of origin group. According to the Pew Research analysis, 44% of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico could apply for deportation protection under the new programs, compared with 24% of those from other parts of the world.

President Obama’s new programs could affect about 4 million total unauthorized immigrants who will be eligible for deportation protection and a three-year work permit. The largest group — at least 3.5 million, according to Pew Research estimates of 2012 data — consists of unauthorized immigrant parents who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and have children who either were born in the U.S. or are legal permanent residents. Of these, about 700,000 have adult children and the remaining 2.8 million have children younger than 18.

The new policy also expands eligibility for the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that benefits young adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The program would allow an additional 330,000 people, according to our estimates, to apply for and receive temporary deportation relief. Previously, the program was available only to those up to age 30, but the executive action would lift that age cap. In addition, the program would allow immigrants who arrived as children illegally before Jan. 1, 2010 to become eligible, expanding the program beyond the original June 15, 2007 cutoff date.

In some cases, the Obama administration’s estimates of how many would be affected differ from those calculated by Pew Research. For example, the government estimates that more than 4 million parents of U.S. citizen children or legal permanent residents could apply for relief compared with our 3.5 million figure. One possible difference is that the data Pew Research uses only includes parents who live with their children.

While work permits and deportation relief will be available, those covered by the programs will not be eligible for certain government benefits, including subsidies for health care under the Affordable Care Act.

Among the other policy changes announced in the president’s action are an increased number of visas for skilled workers and spouses of green card holders. There are several changes, including immigration enforcement that will now focus on recent arrivals and serious and repeat criminal offenders.

Even though about 4 million unauthorized immigrants may be eligible for deportation relief, it remains to be seen how many people will apply for and receive it. Response to the existing DACA program may offer a clue. The 2012 program allowed an estimated 1.1 million people ages 30 or younger to become eligible for deportation relief and receive a two-year work permit. But through June 30, 2014, only about 712,000 applied.

The general public disapproves of Obama taking executive action on immigration, by a margin of 48% to 38%, according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey conducted this month. While Americans may not generally support an executive action, the poll found 57% favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, with support increasing to 74% when respondents are given a scenario in which a pathway requires paying fines, back taxes and taking other steps.

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, Hispanics place a priority on the relief from deportation offered by the executive action. By 56% to 35%, Hispanics said it is more important that unauthorized immigrants be able to live and work in the U.S. without threat of deportation than have a pathway to citizenship.

The estimated 4 million covered under the executive action are in addition to an estimated 1.5 million unauthorized immigrants who are eligible for temporary relief from deportation through either the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or having Temporary Protected Status.

The president’s executive action offers deportation relief for the largest number of unauthorized immigrants in recent history. However, the current action does not allow unauthorized immigrants the opportunity to obtain permanent residency or citizenship. Only Congress has the authority to offer a path to legal status, which means those eligible for relief under the new policy remain unauthorized. If a future administration reverses course or if Congress passes an immigration law, the protection from deportation could be taken away.

Correction: This posting has been updated with a revised total of 3.9 million unauthorized immigrants affected by the president’s action, and other related revised estimates. A previous version of this post referred to the president’s implementation of his new immigration policy as an executive order. He has taken executive action.

Topics: Immigration, Unauthorized Immigration

  1. Photo of Jens Manuel Krogstad

    is a writer/editor focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Jeffrey S. Passel

    is a senior demographer at Pew Research Center.


  1. Lacy1 year ago

    i think obama should sign the paper for hispanic because he been a fair person and it will be fair for hispanic people say a little family from a place dangerous and its still bad and they have to go back because donald trump wanna make them go back if the didnt cross the bridge i dont know why he hates hispanic people its unfair and obama should sign that paper for hispanic people can have freedom and dont worry to be killed and kicked out and go back to a dangerous place.

    1. Norwesterner12 months ago

      Can somebody please provide me a list of the countries who reward people with citizenship for working very hard after sneaking into that country?

      As my son once asked of me, “Mom, I’m beginning to know that not all laws need to be obeyed. How do I know which one’s I have to obey and which one’s I can ignore.”

    2. Anonymous6 months ago

      Perhaps Hispanic folks should work on their own country I can’t afford to support them. Honestly, I pay 400 a month out of pocket for daughters epilepsy medication. Now, my tax dollars will allow illegal’s to have it better than we do.
      President Obama, please stop this.

      1. VG Collector6 months ago

        That was an incredibly uninformed comment.

        I know a young lady that was born in Mexico and was brought here “illegally” when she was 6 months old. Both of her parents had jobs here, paid taxes and did the best they could for their kids. This young lady went to American public schools from kindergarten all the way through her senior year and graduated in the top 15% of her class. She is an incredibly smart, caring, loving young lady that speaks perfect English and knows American history better than most “Americans” do.

        She’s now 21 and stuck between a rock and a hard place. This is the only country that she’s ever known and she doesn’t know anyone back in Mexico. Since she was brought here “illegally” when she was 6 months old, she never went through customs. Because of the laws that republicans have put in place, she cannot file for citizenship and she cannot legally leave the country (rock and hard place). She works two jobs, has a REAL social security number and pay’s taxes just like any working “American” does. However, since she isn’t a citizen of the US, she does not qualify for insurance through the ACA even though her tax dollars go towards it.

        Anyone who would want to kick a person like this out of the US to go to a place they have no memory of and with no one there to help them is a very sad person indeed. This young lady is a far better person than most of the “Americans” I know and contributes more positive to this country than that greedy overbearing “American” that wants to kick her out and build a wall.

        As for me, I was born and raised in the USA (as were both of my parents) and ashamed at the number of people in this country who are so heartless.

        Next time before jumping on the bandwagon think just for a moment about the people your trying to destroy the lives of.

  2. Min Zee2 years ago

    Its about time they benefit from something. They have rarely benefitted from political asylum, visas, and other immigration benefits that most other immigrants are granted for claims of religious, political and civil persecution. This article makes it sound as if America is getting a whole new group of Mexican immigrants, but these are people that are already here, are contributing to this country and will continue to do so. Many parts of this country, especially the Southwestern states and California, Nevada, etc where built in large part, due to the labor,blood , sweat and tears of Mexican/Mexican-Americans. This country is safe and continues to grow and prosper because of their efforts and hard work. Companies, and household have been able to flourish with their labor and their hard work. Mexican/Mexican-Americans have fought for your freedom and my freedom. They have always had a large military representation. There is a high Christian population, they are family oriented, they pay taxes, and this country has always depended on the Mexican people in more ways than one. It is about time America helps correct some of the wrongs it has committed against this group of people. For example: Deporting Americans of Mexican ancestry during the depression (known as the Repatriation), treating Mexican-American war veterans with no respect to say the least….Stop being so hateful

  3. JoyceK2 years ago

    This executive action was a huge disappointment to the vast majority of undocumented workers here. Many felt that it rewards men and women who supposedly came here to work but then proceeded to produce children. The thinking is that those who focused on working and making money to support existing family have been penalized for the hard work which did not allow time to socialize, form relationships and produce (for the most part) illegitimate children. Hard working single men and women, no matter how long they have been in this country and working hard to support themselves and others, are again discriminated against. I agree, and think it is very unfair, even though it does benefit some undocumented workers, it does not even come close to helping the hardest workers. The President needs to get relief to law abiding, hard working, self-supporting, tax-paying undocumented workers. The progress on this issue has become frustratingly slow, even for those of us who merely work with and for the undocumented. My frustration is small considering the every day stress and suffering that an undocumented worker bears not knowing when and where s/he might be found and deported. It is a terrible way to have to work and live. A path to citizenship also would allow these people to buy houses, cars and other contributions to the economy that they now cannot access. Their money would be put back into the U.S. economy instead of being sent out out the country.

  4. kareen2 years ago

    About time that some humanity has come in front of the government ices to help does in need of better life with out suffering and injustice to the simple things of life that we take for granted I thank president Obama and for most Thanks to God.

  5. Victor2 years ago

    I just think it’s funny people be asking how r parents supposed to prove they been here for a long time. Oh idk how paper documents hospital bills from there kids that were sick for a long,kids that had any type cancer that had to be in the hospital for treatment kids birth certificate pld papers they have sign for jobs ect all kinds of stuff so u guy don’t worry about that and worry about your guys self ight

  6. andrea2 years ago

    people are very uniformed when it comes to mexican immigration. Alot of people dont know that they pay taxes recive taxes have driver liciences ect. They have familys like me and our 3 children. sad to say we forget that america was made by immigration from aroudn the world. being american in having german,polish,hispanic,irish ect in your family line. people need to be informed and not forget who they are before you bash somone else. thank you mr president !

    1. Kathy Adams1 year ago

      We don’t mind LEGAL immigration.

    2. Anonymous6 months ago

      Legal immigration is not the problem plain and simple. Like you said this country was built on legal immigrants. Illegal immigration ,however,is a problem when the nonrich have to pu the slack.

  7. Cassie2 years ago

    Are you kidding me. Stop worrying about helping Mexico. People are here illegally show them it’s not okay to be here illegally. Not give them more what the hell I seriously hate what this country. Wish I could move out of here. The president isn’t worried about American citizens.

    1. Victor2 years ago

      Y why should they stop trying to help Mexico Cassie there’s nothing wrong with that just because Mexican actually get stuff done unlike other people don’t forget who picks your guys fruit and helps out like Obama said I’m a Mexican and I’m proud of it!!!!

    2. Jason Clarke2 years ago

      Jason. Clarke
      here is my problem I grew up in the United States I became a felon I pay all kinds of fines for it I made it through numerous programs yet I can’t get a job that pays as much as illegal aliens here in the state of Oklahoma do.when in fact I was on a GPS marker to the government knew exactly where I was at if I committed a crime to have my fingerprints they have my DNA they have my social security number they have everything yet I can’t get a job that illegal aliens can have huh doesn’t make sense

  8. fed up of ignorance2 years ago

    I think it is a shame the war ” you people talk”. This nation was built on immigrants. Furthermore most of the illegal undocumented however you want to say work, and don’t receive welfare. You need a social # and proper documention, which illegals dont have. In addition, the employers benefit from not having to pay tax or insurance while paying next to nothing. When was the last time you saw or heard a legal going to farm or to become a laborer. Any one can listen, but educating your self is anot her story.

    1. venice mentor2 years ago

      Obviously, you do not live in Los Angeles County.

  9. MA Sullivan2 years ago

    To refer to this population as “unauthorized” instead of “illegal” is to obfuscat the most significant and devisive characteristic of this population. They came to this country illegally. They broke SIGNIFICANT laws. To refer to them as “unauthorized” implies a lessor offense than breaking a law. Why is the left so afraid to call something by its real name? “Undocumented” or “unauthorized ” be “illegal.” “Choice vs child.”. ” Contribution “vs ‘Tax.”. Are they afraid the truth may undermine their argument. To use a word like “unauthorized’ is to practice advocacy journalism. Polling is supposed to be about uncovering truth.

    1. venice mentor2 years ago

      You are on the mark!!!

  10. MsElmeno2 years ago

    HOLA or HI to all HARD WORKING AMERICAN Readers. I have two question? for ALL of you. HAVE any of you live or spent time with an Illegal person? HAVE YOU ever set on a table to talk about how they affects you as a US citizen?

    1. JoyceK2 years ago

      MsElmeno; 2 excellent questions! THAT is exactly the problem. Americans have no idea of the suffering undocumented workers endure to get here, or the immeasurable contributions hard working immigrants make to the every day life of Americans. Further, few realize that people from Mexico are North Americans. Nor do they realize what wonderful moral people most working immigrants are. I pray for meaningful, fair immigration reform, every night. God bless you!

  11. Dee Rothman2 years ago

    Nice article but how about one that addresses how this will affect US citizens, both native born and naturalized, employed and unemployed? Or how will it affect the job market as new legal aliens come out of the shadows and compete with US citizens, both native born and naturalized, employed and unemployed, in a job market which cannot currently even support the number of people seeking employment. Even anecdotal analysis should suggest the number of unemployed should increase. Less apparent should be the affect on wages and hours of work available for employees, which would seem to substantiate the contention the policy was a courageous move by Obama, because US citizens, both native born and naturalized, employed and unemployed, will on average, see personal income falling and understand the policy hurt them. Will they still vote blue? Those who finally felt the hurt caused by Obama’s changes the last six years didn’t hang blue, did they? My medical insurance went up over $2000 annually and my disposable income fell by about 6 percent. Who are the people most hurt by this and other policies and laws enacted under Obama? The MIDDLE CLASS, PERIOD!

    1. ookay2 years ago

      It is not a competition for work and this will not affect U.S citizens. They do not take jobs away from us because lets be honest we are lazy most of the people I see asking for money out at the corner of a stop is caucasian just like me and you (I assume you are caucasian as well no offense if you are not) lets be honest people don’t have a job because they don’t go out and look for one or want an outrageous amount of money for a particular job. And for how it affects us U.S Citizens I don’t believe it will not emotionally and not physically because they are already here in the U.S its not like people that are living in mexico are eligible for this. A lot of caucasian women are married to undocumented Mexican men.

  12. Me2 years ago

    All smoke and mirrors, no guaranties, and it’s only good for three years. Trick to get Latino votes in 2016, and maybe draw the GOP into fight to try to make them look bad … again. Notice how all the stuff that he does always kicks the can just past an election, I think people are getting wise to his lies and his tricks.

  13. welington2 years ago

    What about people living in USA for about 15 years and have a unsolved case of deportation hanging over their heads? Would they be eligible for the Executive Action?

    1. hmm2 years ago

      hopefully not!!

      1. Victor2 years ago

        Y not my mom has been here since 1991 and she could apply to get her work permit

      2. Victor2 years ago

        Y not my mom has been here since 1991 and she could apply to get her work permit Cassie on the comment below your ancestors were once imagrants to and what’s so bad about helping Mexico the bottom part of the U.S. was Mexico before they fought.

  14. NOamnestyEVER2 years ago

    ……………. more than 70% of illegals will receive welfare. ALL WILL GET JOBS.


  15. NOamnestyEVER2 years ago

    “The President is providing an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants with social security numbers, photo IDs, and work permits—allowing them to now take jobs directly from struggling Americans during a time of record immigration, low wages, and high joblessness.” SEN. JEFF SESSIONS

    1. MsElmeno2 years ago

      You must be a berry hard working American. if so, non of this will affect you, or any hard working American.

    2. Y.M.2 years ago

      Historically Mexicans were disenfranchised as a whole by the Anglo-Saxon population. “The arrival of large numbers of Mexican immigrants threatened the precarious socioeconomic status of those already living in the Southwest (This is referring to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo). Since the majority of immigrants from Mexico (are) poor they (are) willing to to accept the lowest wages; as a consequence, the White American population tends to regard all Mexicans, including descendants of the original landholders in the Southwest, as “cheap labor.” Indigenous Mexican Americans were perceived by the Anglo core as no different from poor Mexican immigrants- a perception that pushed almost all those of Mexican extraction to the bottom rungs of the stratification system (Aguirre and Turner). Given the background of Mexicans and the United States, what jobs exactly are being taken from the U.S. citizens? Mexicans have been relegated to the bottom which usually means that the jobs available to them are the most undesirable ones. And by undesirable jobs I mean hard manual work, field work, low pay jobs, there is a niche created in the economy for agriculture but people fail to see who reaps the profits, that the corporate powers reap the all PROFITS. This isn’t limited to just Mexicans. If immigrants have presented themselves as a threat to your well being I would encourage you to research your American History, and I mean Real History, no the Patriot Loving Agenda that is instilled in students in high school.

      1. Teri2 years ago

        Very well spoken and educated. Thank you, finally someone smart enough to make sense. Good words!

  16. Ted2 years ago

    Can someone explain how an undocumented, illegal immigrant “living in the shadows” proves he/she has been in the this country for 5 or more years? I’m sure there is a way for a fee. Perhaps a Coyote can help with this paperwork. Especially, if they have an established account with them. There is a business opportunity here! Just like getting help applying for VA benefits.

    1. hmm2 years ago

      good point. Also how do they prove their kids were born here?

      1. YOU2 years ago

        There are documents, birth certificates, pictures, ect.

      2. wow2 years ago

        It makes me happy that he is trying to help the immigrants who are parents of U.S citizens (people just like us), at least he is holding to America’s name to be a free country with opportunities let’s not forget that we too are immigrants (not necessarily us but our ancestor, and if they got the chance for a better future in America these particular immigrants definitely deserve the same right). Go Obama and bless America a country constructed of immigrants and full of opportunities.

  17. Gerald FitzGerald2 years ago

    Correction to my comment. I misread the graphs’s gold part ( 1.5 million) as an extension of DOMA, so the graph does answer a question I asked.

  18. Gerald FitzGerald2 years ago

    I would like to see legal arguments for and against the constitutionality and legality of President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

    Thanks for clarifying who and how many immigrants are covered by the recent action. I would like to have seen, in this article, the group covered by DOMA or other relevant actions pertaining to the estimated 11.2 million undocumented, with a percentage of the undocumented (illegally entered) total who are deferred by some executive actions and orders.

  19. Joseph2 years ago

    Duh! They are the closest to the U S and have the most undocumented here.

  20. Greg Johnson2 years ago

    Your query and research is very much on point as it always is. However, I have a query that has puzzled me from the very beginning of the Immigration talks. Nearly everything I’ve heard or read has been in reference to those persons from Mexico or are native to Mexico. Is there not a equal or greater concern with those persons crossing the border from the North or Canada?
    Based on research I have regarding prostitution and drug trafficking, the patterns are very similar North and South. I have every reason to believe the drain on job occupancy is equal to the Mexican neighbors and probably even greater among our neighbors from the North.
    So, why no equal uproar, discussion or inclusion in the discussion regarding immigration?

    1. hmm2 years ago

      Not likely. Canada is not currupt from top to bottom, like Mexico and most of South and Central America. They have a legitimate government, with an educated population.

  21. Carlos2 years ago

    It is not so clear about who is covered and who is not. Because of that there is a punctual question: somebody that has been in the U.S for 10 years, has paid taxes, has no felonies, but at the same time is not a parent of a u.s citizen and entered the u.s as an adult (no DACA) can be elegible for the protection?

  22. Tess2 years ago

    My question is …Why the did not move the age of sixteen to eighteen in the new illegibility for DACA? any particular reason?

  23. Packard Day2 years ago

    In defense of our President, this new immigration initiative will also do nothing but strongly enhance the 401k/IRA investment portfolios of America’s top 10%. It will also marginally help all those living in the next 40% of income brackets as well. Just as long as you or yours are not low skilled and/or low educated workers or are not currently holding down a job that can be easily replaced with a week’s worth of training, you are going to be okay. No worries.

    Truth be told, Barack Obama’s administration and his policies have given us all profit margins in our S&P 500 accounts that have not been seen in more than a generation. So, here’s a plea to just let the President and the good times continue to roll.

    Oh, and God bless America too…ehh?

  24. Bert Pace2 years ago

    Thanks to the President for the courage he showed in taking action on Immigration. How many more years will America have to wait for Mr. Boehner to do his job and actually produce a bi-partisan Bill the President will sign? If actually crafting a Bill is too difficult for the House, why not put the bi-partisan Senate Bill they have had for 511 days up for a vote?Pretty simple solution – if only the GOP was interested in solutions.

    1. Ted2 years ago

      Courage? It doesn’t take courage to be political and that is exactly what this is. Enforcing the existing laws would have been courageous. None of the Presidents starting with Carter had the guts to stop illegal immigration. Now look what a mess this has become.

    2. hmm2 years ago

      It is no US representative or senator’s job to create a bill to benefit the citizens of foreign countries. The only people crying for immigration “reform” are US and foreign companies wishing to bring cheap labor in and undercut our own citizens, and foreign nationals who believe it is their “right” to benefit from sneaking into the US. They believe once they broke in, started having children here (which is their choice of course) , and have evaded the law long enough that they are owed a voice and legal status in the US. People that sneak in are owed nothing but a boot back across the border, and companies that want to undercut our own people should lose the benefits of operating here.