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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.”

Natasha Madov and Michaela Ross

Brazil’s presidential elections captured global attention in late 2014. Events such as the sudden death of front running candidate in an airplane crash to a “second round” of elections when the first round wasn’t won by a sufficient margin created international speculation about the next leader for the world’s eighth largest economy. But another drama was playing out behind the scenes: an unexplained spike in voter turnout of over six million people.

Voting is mandatory in Brazil, beginning at age 18. But a mysterious swelling in voters from the 2010 elections to 2014 cannot be explained by immigration or aging population. Brazilian officials and political scientists cannot explain a spike in voter turnout of over six million people, primarily in the 25-69 age bracket.



Already contacted:

Eduardo Leoni


IBGE (Brazilian Instituto of Geography and Statistics, which is responsible for the Brazilian Census)


Cesar Zucco

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro


Others to Contact:

David J. Samuels

Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota

Author of several books in Brazilian and Latin American politcs



Frances Hagopian

Professor of Brazilian Studies and Government, Harvard University

Author of book on regime changes and politics in Brazil



Matthew Taylor

Professor of Political Science at American University


Media Inquiries: 202-885-5950


Brodwyn Fischer

Professor of Latin American History, University of Chicago




For 2010 voters numbers and election results:

For 2014 voters’ numbers and election results:


Desiree Mathurin & Mia Garchitorena

We are interested in looking at the progress of the idNYC initiative. Who has it basically?

There isn’t much data available. However, we’ve been in contact with Ilana  Ozernoy, who works at the Mayor’s Immigration Affairs office. I’ve sent her a list of data points I was interested in and she said she would get back to me.

The New York Times’ The Upshot published an interactive graph representing a model which predicts an American’s lifetime voting habits based on their birth year. The study found that a person’s most formative years were between the ages of 14 and 24, and that political events and presidential approval ratings during this timeframe were strongly influential on a person’s voting behavior.

The study excluded African Americans because they have historically voted predominantly Democratic. It also excluded Hispanics, particularly recent immigrants, because their population numbers have increased over the years.

The model also noted that once we reach age 40, we are three times less as likely to change our party allegiance given current events than at age 18.

One of the visualization’s strengths is that  it is able to show how different age demographics voted in the 2012–it was mostly people in their twenties and early sixties, which demonstrates Obama’s ability to galvanize youth voters. So, given the model’s prediction, Obama voters in their twenties are more likely to remain Democrat than, say, their parents.

Another of its strengths is that it demonstrates that certain generations essentially “made up their minds.” For example, the WWII generation, influenced by Eisenhower in the 1950’s, remained primarily Republican for the rest of their lives. Conversely, baby-boomers, who grew up in the 1960’s, remained Democrats.

In this same vein, I think the visualization falls short because it is unable to exhibit or quantify historical moments that may have had a great influence on a specific generation. At a minimum, it could have displayed, in an additional line, the president listed below’s approval rating and/or party affiliation.

Historical context makes the visualization compelling, but it’s difficult to import that information in an objective way.

On an interactivity level, the visualization is incredibly easy and appealing. I’m sure most people, like myself, scrolled the bar to their own date of birth to compare themselves with their generational compatriots.

I would assume that one data set the study may have used was party records, since registering for a party is public record.