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22 million in U.S. are ‘not a citizen’, Census survey finds

Candidates taking the Oath of Allegiance at a Naturalization Ceremony at College of DuPage (COD Newsroom/WikiCommons)
September 27, 2019

The number of foreign-born residents in the United States has reached 44.7 million, of which, 22.1 million are designated in the ‘not a U.S. citizen’ category.

The findings of the 2018 American Community Survey were released Friday. The latest assessment of numbers shows the U.S. foreign-born population has reached its highest point since 1910, according to Bloomberg.

While the topic of a citizenship question has been hotly debated. In June, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling that undermined President Donald Trump’s administration’s push to have a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The majority decision determined there were inadequate reasons for including the question, beyond a “contrived” explanation.

Despite the objection to the decennial census, the American Community Survey, conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau does include questions about a person’s place of birth, citizenship and the year they entered the country. Responses to those questions have allowed the U.S. Census Bureau to draw an estimate of the population of foreign-born residents in the U.S., including non-citizens.

The survey does explicitly ask one question, “is this person a citizen of the United States?” to which responses can include an answer of “no,” or they can indicate “yes” because they were born in the U.S. or a U.S. territory, or to U.S. parents abroad, or “yes” as a result of naturalization from a foreign country.

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The survey does not, however, inquire further upon the legal status of those who answered no to the citizenship question.

The 2018 findings of 22.1 million non-citizen U.S. residents reflects a relatively unchanged number. In 2017, there were 22.3 million non-citizens within the U.S. and in 2016 the number was 22.2 million.

The numbers reported by the U.S. Census Bureau also saw the population of naturalized U.S. citizens grow by nearly 2 million in 2018. In the year 2018, the number of naturalized foreign-born citizens was 22.6 million, above the reported 20.7 million in 2017 and 20 million in 2016.

According to Bloomberg, the 1960 and 1970 assessments of the U.S. population found roughly one in 20 were foreign-born. By contrast, the number is about one in seven for foreign-born residents. Additionally, the largest U.S. states – California, Texas, Florida and New York- all show that foreign-born residents are more than 15 percent of their respective populations.

In August, the backlog of pending citizenship cases reached 1 million.

The Trump administration, a frequent critic of unchecked immigration, has announced the end of the “catch and release” policy that takes detained migrant border crossers and allows them to be released into the U.S. interior. The decision follows a peak in migrant detentions in May.