Highly-Educated Undocumented Immigrant in the United States

Evin Millet
Date of Publication: 
August, 2022
Source Organization: 
Center for Migration Studies

This brief provides a statistical profile of undocumented immigrants in the United States who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher -- a total of 1,714,700 individuals. Using American Community Survey 2019 data, the brief looks at this population by level of degree, country of origin, state of residence, gender, and race/ethnicity, including the correlation between level of degree and race and country of origin. Undocumented highly-educated immigrants are more likely to be in the labor force than those who are documented (81% vs 75%), but documented highly educated immigrants are more likely to be employed in high-skilled management, business, science, and arts occupations (73%) than those who are undocumented (59%), Those who are undocumented also earn lower average wages and salaries ($73,522 vs. $87,378) and have less access to health insurance. Alongside legal status, the finding suggests that race plays a role in the fields in which undocumented immigrants find employment. The brief closes with estimates of undocumented immigrants eligible for legal status under pending legislative and administrative programs, including the Dream and Promise Act of 2021, the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, and the US Citizenship Act of 2021. Legalization of highly-educated immigrants, the author concludes, would allow undocumented immigrants to fully participate in the labor force and help fill labor shortages while increasing innovation, productivity, and tax revenue. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)

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Millet, E. (2022, August). Highly-Educated Undocumented Immigrant in the United States. Center for Migration Studies. https://cmsny.org/educated-immigrants-millet-080122/#