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REPORT: Unauthorized Immigrants Make Up a Quarter of Philadelphia’s Foreign-Born

A new Pew study puts the unauthorized immigrant population of Philadelphia at about 50,000, or 3.2% of the City’s population, in line with other major cities and slightly below the national average percentage of unauthorized immigrants.


Unauthorized Immigrants Make Up a Quarter of Philadelphia’s Foreign-Born Pew Research Center estimates that unauthorized percentage of city’s population mirrors country as a whole February 15, 2017, By Larry Eichel and Thomas Ginsberg

For this analysis, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia research initiative used data from the Pew Research Center, a Washington-based subsidiary of the Trusts that conducts polling and data-driven social research. Neither the Pew Research Center nor the Philadelphia research initiative takes policy positions.

Philadelphia has about 50,000 unauthorized immigrants, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center. That means approximately 1 in 4 foreign-born residents in the city is unauthorized.

The city’s total foreign-born resident population increased in the last decade, reaching about 200,000 and accounting for about 13 percent of Philadelphia’s overall population. In 2014, the last year for which data was available, approximately 25 percent of foreign-born Philadelphians were unauthorized immigrants. A decade earlier, in 2005, unauthorized immigrants had accounted for about 27 percent of the city’s 170,000 foreign-born residents, according to the center’s estimates.

Compared with the four largest Northeastern cities—Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Washington—Philadelphia’s unauthorized immigrant population was second-biggest, behind New York’s (525,000) and slightly larger than Boston’s, although not by a statistically significant amount. (See Table 1.)

At 25 percent, the unauthorized share of Philadelphia’s foreign-born population was higher than in New York City (16 percent) and Boston (20 percent) but about the same as in Washington (26 percent), Baltimore (29 percent), and the country as a whole, for which the unauthorized share of foreign-born residents was about 26 percent, or 11.1 million.

As a percentage of total population, however, Philadelphia’s unauthorized immigrant population of 3.2 percent was below those of New York City and Boston. Philadelphia’s percentage was about the same as in Washington, Baltimore, and the country as a whole.

Statewide in Pennsylvania, unauthorized immigrants were disproportionately concentrated in Philadelphia. The city had about 28 percent of the state’s 180,000 unauthorized immigrants, while representing 12 percent of the state’s total population.

Read the rest of the analysis here.

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