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Majority of America's Undocumented Immigrants Live in 20 Urban Areas

Feb 09, 2017

The majority of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. are concentrated in just 20 major metropolitan areas, according to a new analysis based on government data.

A report from Pew Research released Thursday found that 61% of the 11.1 million undocumented and 65% of legal immigrants in the U.S. live in big cities. The figures are almost double the share of the total U.S. population––36%––that lives in those 20 metro areas. The clustering of undocumented populations in urban areas is perhaps unsurprising, since new arrivals tend to go to areas where there are already large immigrant populations.

New York (1.15 million) and Los Angeles (1 million) have the highest number of undocumented residents, with Houston, Dallas, Miami and Chicago also home to significant populations (Houston has roughly 575,000, Dallas has roughly 475,000, Miami has about 450,000 and Chicago has 425,000.) In addition to L.A., California is home to four of the other top 20 cities: San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, and Riverside-San Bernardino.

President Donald Trump outperformed Hillary Clinton among rural voters in the 2016 election, while Clinton was stronger in many urban pockets. Sixty six percent of Trump voters cited immigration as a "big problem," according to an August Pew report, compared to only 17% of Clinton supporters.

Like many of the cities with the highest undocumented populations, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have vowed to remain "sanctuary cities" to shield their residents from federal immigration orders despite Trump's executive order taking aim at federal funding for such cities. It's unclear how much the executive order would actually affect municipal funding.

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