Stewart Rabinowitz, of the Dallas-based law firm Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, offers informed commentary about the estimates of the 2008 U.S. legal permanent resident population.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently released information regarding the legal permanent resident (LPR) population living in the United States as of January 1, 2008, and has estimated that 12.6 million LPRs lived in the United States on that date. The LPR population includes persons granted lawful permanent residence, but not those who have become U.S. citizens. One-half obtained LPR status in 2000 or later; one-quarter became LPRs during 2005-07.
Data on the size and characteristics of the foreign-born population are needed to assess the impact of immigration and integration of immigrants into U.S. society. Stewart Rabinowitz, an immigration lawyer from the Dallas-based law firm Rabinowitz and Rabinowitz, explains how the estimates are compiled. “The decennial census and monthly household surveys of the Census Bureau include questions on place of birth, citizenship, and year of entry into the United States. This data provides information on the total foreign-born population, naturalized citizens, and non-citizens. National population data on the major subcategories of non-citizens, including LPRs, students, temporary workers, and unauthorized immigrants, however, are not readily available from any source and must be estimated.”In 1981, Congress discontinued an alien registration program which required all legal resident aliens to report their status annually to the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service making direct calculations since then more difficult.Immigration data collected by DHS measures administrative events such as the number of aliens granted lawful permanent residence or the number approved for asylum, but not the population of legal permanent residents or the population as of asylees living in the United States at a point in time. Estimates of the LPR population have been derived primarily from Census and DHS data by estimating a base population as of a certain date and adding subsequent components of population change. Adds Rabinowitz, “A variant of this approach has been used by DHS to estimate the resident LPR population since 2002.”
Separate population estimates were developed for LPRs who entered the United States before 1980 and during the interval between 1980 and 2007. Two sets of estimates were added together to obtain the overall estimated population as of January 1, 2008.