A Look at the Undocumented Population in the Boroughs

Undocumented immigrants in New York can now identify themselves thanks to the idNYC initiative. The card, a free I.D. that began this past January, is a municipal I.D. that works the same way a state I.D. does. However, the card doesn’t require as much paperwork as a state I.D. For those who were unable to receive a state I.D., such as undocumented immigrants, this card is  beneficial. Using the card can allow access to government buildings and provides an official identification if approached by police.

Over 65 percent of undocumented immigrants have moved to the New York City from all over the world since 2000. The Center of Migration Studies cites when these undocumented immigrants moved to the United States and what countries they moved from. This map categorizes undocumented immigrants by borough, population and race. Further studies on particular races will provide the reasons for their migration to New York.

Currently thousands of undocumented immigrants remain unknown in New York City, a problem Mayor de Blasio’s office sought to change with the idNYC initiative. The idNYC card was developed with the immigrant community in mind. Both immigrants and citizens lined up at idNYC offices, waiting three hours or more for an appointment. Over 44,000 applications were processed during its introduction and as of Feb. 27, over 260,000 appointments at enrollment centers were booked, according to a mayoral administrative assistant.

   “This is a first step toward including undocumented people in society. Hopefully the entire state will except this card soon,” said Melissa Garcia, a member of the immigration information center New York State Youth Leadership Council.

The number of undocumented immigrants in New York has risen tremendously since 2000, according to the Center of Migration Studies. About 27% of unauthorized immigrants, documented by the 2012 census, came to the U.S. during the years 2000-2004. Out of 25 countries, the Dominican Republic has seen the most immigration with 11% of its population moving to the United States.

A Columbia University socioeconomic profile study on Dominicans shows that New York City has the highest concentration of Dominicans in the U.S., with over 300,000 Dominicans moving between 1990 to 2000. Dominicans now outnumber Puerto Ricans, according to the Center for Latin American, Caribbean & Latino Studies (CLCL), with over 140,000 Dominicans moving to NYC between 2010 to 2013. One reason for this surge in population is that Dominicans seemed to leave the country while Haitians moved in.

The Center of Migration also shows that there is a minute amount of undocumented immigrants from Africa. In 2012, over 5,000 undocumented Ghanians and 2,000 undocumented Nigerians moved to New York City. Less than 1,000 moved from Ethiopia. The United States Census Bureau states that the African population in the United States has doubled every decade since 1970. The number of African immigrants in New York continues to increase, but most seem to move here legally.

Proving residency and identity is difficult for some undocumented immigrants. Most undocumented immigrants in New York live anonymously in fear of being detected or deported by officials. idNYC particularly aims at helping immigrants to not be afraid of reaching out for assistance from government agencies.

“Generally, this should be seen as a platform for undocumented immigrants to come out of the closet and be transparent about their status,” said Wernick. “The more people come out of the shadows, the more likely we are to see real immigration reform.”