In Congress’ nearly 40 years of failure to pass a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, new analysis by FWD.us shows that a significantly higher share of undocumented individuals today have some form of immigration relief, such as deportation protections or access to work permits, compared with a decade ago. This growth in the number of undocumented individuals with protections has enabled millions of family members to stay together, and has grown the U.S. economy by billions of dollars.
FWD.us estimates that nearly 1 in 5 undocumented immigrants, or about 2 million, have protections, including access to work permits, up from less than half a million a decade ago, even as the total number of undocumented immigrants has stayed relatively stable during the same period.
At the end of 2022, more than 500,000 among this group were Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. TPS provides work authorization and deportation protections typically through the Department of Homeland Security, for people whose home countries are very unsafe. And nearly 600,000 people are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, an administrative rule providing deportation protections and work permits for undocumented young people who entered the U.S. as children. Finally, at least 700,000 people have an asylum claim pending in immigration court. These individuals participating in a lawful asylum-seeking process—which is their legal right under both U.S. and international law—have access to work permits while they are waiting for a decision in their case.1