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for people who care about the West

Deportation relief

Program could help immigrant families stay in the U.S.


Immigrant families attend the Immigration Relief Education forum at the Los Angeles Convention Center to learn how to prove they have lived in the U.S. for five years or more. Deferred action programs could prevent the deportation of more than 4 million families in the U.S.
Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo

Over 4 million unauthorized immigrants live in the West. If the Obama administration and Congress succeed in passing immigration reform, many could be eligible for deportation relief. Nationwide, 46 percent of unauthorized immigrants qualify for deferred action programs under federal guidelines. But in many Western states, that number is higher: In Utah, it’s 54 percent; in Idaho, 64. Across the 11 Western states, over 2 million people could qualify. A high proportion of immigrants in the region come from Mexico (in Colorado, 81 percent), says Randy Capps, an immigration expert at the Migration Policy Institute. These families are long established and settled, increasing the odds that they’ll be eligible. But as the chart below shows, the West’s unauthorized immigrant populations are also widely diverse, in both countries of origin and in occupations. Increasingly, they have families, jobs and, now, roots in the region.

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