The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Report: Nearly 100,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from U.S. high schools each year


Nearly 100,000 undocumented immigrants are estimated to graduate from U.S. high schools every year, a new report says, although many do not have the same protection against deportation and other benefits that the “dreamers” do.

The report, based on census data, was published by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, a D.C. think tank that does research and analysis to improve immigration and integration policies.

It says that some 98,000 undocumented immigrants are estimated to graduate from public high schools annually — with 44 percent living in two states: California (27 percent) and Texas (17 percent). That estimate is far higher than the 65,000 that has been cited for nearly two decades.

The term “dreamers” refers to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and given protections against deportation and authorization to work by the Obama administration.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2012 called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the Trump administration has sought to rescind. Court orders have kept it alive, but no new applications are being accepted. As of Jan. 31, 680,000 people held DACA status.

The report does not specify exactly how many of the nearly 100,000 undocumented immigrants have DACA status and how many don’t. Some of the students may be new arrivals, and others have been in the United States for longer periods but never applied for DACA.

“That makes many of the 98,000 unauthorized-immigrant children graduating from U.S. high schools ineligible going forward,” the report said. “While high school graduation represents an important milestone in the lives of many young people, these graduates will be at risk of deportation and will face limited opportunities to pursue further work and education.”

The report, written by Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova, is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and high school graduation rates from the National Center for Education Statistics. It was commissioned by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a group of American college and university leaders who support policies that create a welcoming environment for immigrants on school campuses.

The authors found that an estimated 125,000 undocumented immigrants reach high school graduation age, with 98,000 actually graduating each year.

After California and Texas, the state with the next largest share of these students is Florida, with 6 percent. New York, New Jersey and Illinois all have 4 percent of the national total. Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia each have 3 percent. Arizona, Maryland, Washington state and Colorado each have 2 percent, with Nevada and Massachusetts at 1 percent. There are 19 percent in a category combining other states. (Totals do not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.)

Here’s the full report: