Information: Migration Policy Institute
Gwinnett County has more immigrants living illegally than any other Georgia county, according to a report released Thursday.
The Migration Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank, estimates that Gwinnett has 71,000 “unauthorized” residents, 29,000 more than the next county — DeKalb. Of the total in Gwinnett, 30,000 of the residents are believed to be eligible for relief from the Obama Administration’s controversial executive actions on deportation policy, which are being challenged by Republican opposition.
Joe Sorenson, Gwinnett County communications director, said Thursday that the county would need time to gain a better understanding of the “approach and methodology” of the report before commenting on its findings.
Randy Capps, a director of research with the nonprofit, said the counties that stand to be touched most by the president’s policies of deferred deportation are in California and Texas, where the population of undocumented Mexican residents is highest. Mexican immigrants are the “unauthorized group” most likely to be well established in the U.S. and eligible for the programs, Capps said in a news release.
But according to the institute’s report, Gwinnett, which is Georgia’s second-most populous county, also has a high number of Mexican-born residents living without the proper documentation.
Citing U.S. Census information and university research as its sources, the report lists Mexico as the birthplace for 34,000 of the immigrants in the county, more than any other country by a wide margin. The second most common homeland is Guatemala, with 6,000 residents hailing from there; Korea is next, with 5,000.
Of the 30,000 potentially to benefit from the president’s programs, 8,000 could be eligible for temporary exemption from deportation because they came to the U.S. as children and meet other criteria. The remaining 22,000 could benefit because they have children who are U.S. citizens or “legal permanent residents,” the Migration Policy Institute said.
The report also gives detailed profiles of Gwinnett’s undocumented immigrant population, including breakdowns on their ages, occupations and a variety of other characteristics.
The majority of the residents are between 25 and 44 years old. Only 7,000 are under 16 years old. The most common profession listed is construction. Fifty-one percent of the total speak English “well” or better. Of those who are 16 or older, 64 percent are employed, the report says.
In total, the report lists 94 counties, which are believed to be home to about two-thirds of the 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States.