December 1, 2014

Who are the unauthorized immigrants ineligible for Obama’s executive action?

The 5.8 million unauthorized immigrants not eligible for deportation relief under President Obama’s executive actions are more likely than those eligible to be unmarried and not have U.S.-born children living with them, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

The president’s new and existing programs could shield 48% of the nation’s 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. from deportation. The executive action announced last month offers three-year work permits and deportation relief to about 4 million unauthorized immigrants, primarily parents who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and have U.S. citizen or legal resident children.

illegal immigrants who are not eligible for Obama immigration programsA new Pew Research Center analysis examined the demographic characteristics of those not eligible for the president’s new policy changes. Here’s what we found:

  • Men who are ineligible for deportation relief are more likely to be single. Among ineligible adult men, 64% are single, compared with 36% among those who are eligible. In addition, the number of ineligible single men outnumber the eligible single men by a more than two-to-one margin – 2.1 million to 875,000.
  • Similar shares of those ineligible and eligible for deportation relief have a job. About seven-in-ten (73%) adults ineligible for relief are working, compared with 69% of those eligible.
  • States in the West with larger numbers of Mexicans tend to have lower shares of unauthorized immigrant population who are ineligible for relief than states in the East. For example, 48% of California’s unauthorized immigrant population is ineligible for relief, compared with 61% in New York.
  • There are 250,000 unauthorized immigrant adults with U.S.-born children living at home who are ineligible for relief because they entered the country within the past five years. Just 4% of ineligible adults have U.S.-born children at home, compared with 77% of those eligible. In addition, those eligible for relief have lived in the U.S. an average of six years longer than those ineligible –15 years among those eligible, compared with 9 years among the ineligible.
  • About 350,000 unauthorized children under 18 are ineligible for deportation relief because they didn’t meet DACA’s program requirements, such as arriving in the U.S. more than five years ago.
  • Meanwhile, thousands are eligible for relief under more than one program. An estimated 200,000 are eligible both under the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and because they have a U.S.-born child living with them and have lived in the country for at least five years.

Topics: Immigration, Immigration Trends, 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. JoeRob2 years ago

    When you realize that there are hundreds of schemes to undermine legal immigration in this country, I doubt we will sustain Democracy. The requirements to speak English, no longer applies: Just look at the voting information.

  2. MARIA E MORALES2 years ago

    The majority of the people protected by Obama’s policy are exactly the ones who shouldn’t be protected. Most (if not all) of the illegal immigrant parents who have kids born in the US have already milked the system to pay for their kids’ hospital and other medical care, food stamps, education, etc. In the LEGAL immigration way, people applying for LEGAL immigration are required to provide letters of support from their sponsors, indicating they will not be a financial drain to society. And, another thing: once the “3-year permits” expire, is anyone going to take away these “temporary” permits? All hell would break loose if anybody should try. There’s nothing temporary about this whole plan!

    1. Judith2 years ago

      I agree 100% with you. There are people living more than 20 years in the country, good morals and paying taxes but because the system is UNFAIR they don’t have the MERITS to be protected by an executive action. Life has ironies, this is a big one or I should say life is unfair?

  3. Guadalupe Garcia2 years ago

    This may see more single men currently living in the United States with more than five years recidency marrying single women with children and adopting the same to qualify.

  4. RDMANUEL2 years ago

    How many of the ones meeting the 5 year requirement have obtained the 5 years because the current immigration police have been so lax in enforcing the current laws.
    It also appears those going through the proper requirements are being punished by the NEW orders that provide benefits without regards to current requirements.

  5. Richard Tebaldi2 years ago

    I firmly believe we are sending the wrong message to those who came into this Country illegally. I believe these forgiving tales by the President are only going to make matters worse. For example, and I know this is already going on in America, an American Citizen will marry an ineligible candidate just for the sake of gaining citizenship. Oft times, a non citizen will woo a partner into believing they love them, only to break their hearts by saying “I don’t love you no more”! and becoming a citizen. Laws are NOT written to be broken. “Mitigating circumstances” should never be prescribed for a mass of peoples. Individual, yes, but en mass, NO! We are telling non citizens, “please break our laws, we don’t have the wherewithal to police this issue”. We are telling our children “American laws have no teeth”, therefore crime pays. Fix Ellis Island, don’t lie!

  6. Someone smart2 years ago

    What about the legal immigrants who meet all the criteria specified above but on visa categories that are not allowed to work? Case example: Consider a spouse who is on H4 visa (dependent visa to H1B) who has been here for more than 5 years and has US born children. If only the person was illegal immigrant, he/she would be allowed to work per the executive order. However given that the person happens to be legal immigrant, he/she has to wait for the H1B holder to apply for green card and wait for 1 – 2 years after applying.

  7. Aaron2 years ago

    To be eligible for relief as a parent, do you “have” to have us born citizens? Or can you also be eligible via other ways such as no crime record, more then 5 years in us, working full-time, has children under DACA. Many people are being confused with the requirements for eligibility.

  8. Garibaldi2 years ago

    What about non-hispanic immigrants? How are they affected? What are their numbers?

    1. Sor Juana2 years ago

      They gave you a number ‘eligible non-Mexican’ since Mexican is the largest pop. Look at it along with the other information they have provided, and do more of your own sub-pop research. I’m sure Pew is working on additional data and interactive maps to provide us with in the near future.