A new report from the Pew Research Center estimates there are about 150,000 immigrants in the Seattle area — equaling nearly 4 percent of the population — who do not have legal status.
Seattle is among the 20 metropolitan areas with the largest populations of immigrants who are in the United States illegally, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.
This is the first time Pew has estimated the size of this population by metropolitan area, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Pew uses the term “unauthorized immigrants” for people living in the U.S. who either entered the country illegally or overstayed their visa.
The analysis shows that unauthorized immigrants are more likely to live in urban areas than the U.S. population as a whole. Of the nation’s 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants, 61 percent live in 20 large metro areas — a much higher concentration than the U.S. population overall. (By contrast, just 36 percent of the total U.S. population lives in those metros).
In the Seattle metro area, there are an estimated 150,000 people without legal status, which ranks as the 16th-largest population in the United States.
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Unauthorized immigrants represent 3.9 percent of the total population in the Seattle area — that’s lower than most of the other 20 metros in the report but still above the national average of 3.5 percent.
Of those 150,000 in metro Seattle, Pew estimates that just 20,000 live within the city of Seattle. That’s a smaller population than other cities that are closest in size to Seattle, such as Denver (55,000), Boston (35,000) and Washington, D.C. (25,000).
Seattle is like 19 of the 20 metro areas in that the majority of immigrants without legal status live outside the area’s major city. Phoenix is the sole exception.
Last month, President Trump issued an executive order promising to cut federal funds from “sanctuary cities.”
Police in such sanctuary jurisdictions do not ask people about their immigration status and may not cooperate with federal officials in identifying immigrants who are not here legally. This is intended to make immigrants feel safe reporting crimes and cooperating with police.
Seattle is among those sanctuary cities. Mayor Ed Murray said that Seattle will not back down in resisting the president’s executive order. Other sanctuary cities in this area include Bellevue, Kirkland and Burien.
According to the Pew study, Houston has the highest percentage of unauthorized immigrants, at 8.7 percent of the total population. But in terms of raw numbers, the largest populations by far are in the New York (1.2 million) and Los Angeles (1 million) metro areas.
Both New York City, and the entire state of California, are sanctuary jurisdictions.