On Nov. 3, the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) released a report estimating the population of immigrants eligible to naturalize. The detail on the lawful permanent resident (LPR) population included in this report, together with forthcoming release of data at the sub-state level, will allow state, local and federal government and non-governmental service providers to develop strategies for assisting LPRs to naturalize and to identify and overcome barriers to eligibility.
The CMS report differs from the annual report put out by the Office of Immigration Statistics estimating the LPR population. That report includes an estimate on the number of LPRs eligible to naturalize, but it breaks down these estimates by states only for the 20 states with the greatest population of LPRs. It provides country of origin data only for the 20 countries of origin with the greatest number of eligible LPRs.
The Center for Migration Studies used a different methodology to obtain its estimate of 8.6 million LPRs eligible to naturalize, but arrived at a figure comparable to that of the Office of Immigration Statistics’ 8.8 million. The CMS estimate is based on its analysis of the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) and its own previous estimate of the population of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. (The undocumented population must be subtracted from the total foreign-born population in order to accurately estimate the number of persons eligible to naturalize, since the undocumented are not eligible.)
What are the implications of the CMS study? Because these estimates are based on the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, all the geographic and demographic detail that comes with the survey are included in these estimates. This report includes not only the states of residence and countries of origin of LPRs, but also English language ability, language spoken at home, health insurance coverage, age, marital status, access to computers and the internet, educational attainment, length of residence in the U.S. and income. It is truly a robust study that offers rich detail on the citizenship-eligible LPRs in the U.S.
In a future post, we will take a look at some of the detail in this report, and highlight policy implications of the report’s findings.