Learn why immigration isn't as easy as you might think.

If you're undocumented, where is the line?

Download our fact sheet and find out.

What is "chain migration"?

And why do I keep hearing about it?

Undocumented Americans pay $11.64 billion annually in state and local taxes.

Contributions range from almost $2.2 million in Montana with an estimated undocumented population of 4,000 to more than $3.1 billion in California, home to more than 3 million undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants nationwide pay on average an estimated 8% of their incomes in state and local taxes (this is their effective state and local tax rate). To put this in perspective, the top 1% of taxpayers pay an average nationwide effective tax rate of just 5.4%. Allowing them to work legally would increase these state and local tax contributions by an estimated $2.1 billion a year.

Source: The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP)




Undocumented Americans pay $12 billion annually to the Social Security Trust Fund.

An estimated 7 million people are currently working in the US illegally. Of those, an estimated 3.1 million are using fake or expired social security numbers, and also paying automatic payroll taxes. They pay an estimated annual net contribution of $12 billion to the Social Security Trust Fund. The SSA estimates that unauthorized workers have paid  $100 billion into the fund over the past decade.

Source: Social Security Administration (SSA)/Vice News

In addition, ITINs, or Individual Tax Identification Number, are one way that undocumented immigrants can pay taxes, as anyone can apply for and receive the number. In 2010, over 3 million people paid over $870 million in income taxes using an ITIN, and ITIN filers pay $9 billion in payroll taxes annually.

Source: Internal Revenue Service (IRS)/American Immigration Council.



Immigration has an overall positive impact on long-run economic growth in the U.S.

According to a team of economists and researchers, the economic effects of immigration are mostly positive, and encourage economic growth. Their reported “assesses the impact of dynamic immigration processes on economic and fiscal outcomes for the United States, a major destination of world population movements.”

Source: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine




Immigrants are more likely to start businesses than native-born Americans.

  In 2012, the native born entrepreneurial rate was 0.26%. The immigrant entrepreneurial rate was 0.49%. While these numbers change from year to year, immigrants consistently start businesses at higher rates than the native born.

Source: The Kauffman Foundation




There are approximately 11 million undocumented Americans living in the United States today.

The U.S. unauthorized immigrant population – 11.1 million in 2014 – has stabilized since the end of the Great Recession, as the number from Mexico declined but the total from other regions of the world increased.

Source: Pew Research Center






140,000 more people have left the United States for Mexico between 2009 to 2014

More Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the U.S. than have migrated here, resulting in an immigration net loss of 140,000 from 2009 to 2014.

The same data sources also show the overall flow of Mexican immigrants between the two countries is at its smallest since the 1990s, mostly due to a drop in the number of Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S. From 2009 to 2014, 1 million Mexicans and their families (including U.S.-born children) left the U.S. for Mexico, according to data from the 2014 Mexican National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (ENADID). U.S. census data for the same period show an estimated 870,000 Mexican nationals left Mexico to come to the U.S., a smaller number than the flow of families from the U.S. to Mexico.

Source: Pew Research Center


The fastest growing undocumented population are Asian immigrants.

The highest growth rate for Unauthorized Populations by Region of Origin, between 2000-2013, were Asian immigrants, who grew at growth rate of 202%.

Source: Migration Policy Institute




Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, and be incarcerated, than the native born population.

Using data from the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey (ACS), researchers have shown that immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives, and that crime rates and levels of immigration are not correlated.

Source: CATO Institute/U.S. Census and the American Community Survey (ACS)


“There are numerous reasons why immigrant criminality is lower than native criminality.  One explanation is that immigrants who commit crimes can be deported and thus are punished more for criminal behavior, making them less likely to break the law.

Another explanation is that immigrants self-select for those willing to work rather than those willing to commit crimes.  According to this “healthy immigrant thesis,” motivated and ambitious foreigners are more likely to immigrate and those folks are less likely to be criminals. This could explain why immigrants are less likely to engage in “anti-social” behaviors than natives despite having lower incomes.  It’s also possible that more effective interior immigration enforcement is catching and deporting unlawful immigrants who are more likely to be criminals before they have a chance to be incarcerated.”



An ICE detainer doesn't mean a detainee is undocumented

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must have probable cause that the individual is deportable before issuing a detainer. This does not necessarily mean that the person is undocumented, as legal permanent residents can be eligible for this treatment as well.

Source: https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/immigration-detainers-overview