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After crossing border, migrants end up in blue states more than red

Red state governors are criticizing President Joe Biden for a surge of immigrants crossing the border.
After crossing border, migrants end up in blue states more than red
Posted at 2:49 PM, May 11, 2023

Migrants were relocated from the border in Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The move was organized by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who said — citing no evidence — that unauthorized immigration impacts red states more than blue states. 

"Every community in America should be sharing in the burden, it shouldn't all fall on a handful of red states," DeSantis said. 

While migrants cross into border states like Texas that are red, researchers have found they often don’t stay there for long, heading to different places to link up with promised work, family, and established immigrant communities. 

"There is that burden at the border. But generally migrants are being absorbed all across the country. This really is a national concern," said Julia Gelatt, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. 

Scripps News found, of the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., 57% were living in blue states, defined as states with Democratic governors as well as Washington, D.C.

SEE MORE: NYC suspends some homeless shelter rules anticipating migrant surge

Fewer undocumented immigrants, 43%, were in red states with Republican governors. Even when accounting for population size, higher per capita rates of undocumented immigrants live in blue states, not red states. 

Our analysis uses research from the Migration Policy Institute that models where unauthorized immigrants likely live. 

The group relies on government data, but those figures haven’t been updated since 2019. 

So we also examined recent requests for asylum filed in state immigration courts, from numbers compiled by Syracuse University. It’s one way to get a rough sense of where migrants seeking refugee status are going. 

"They can ask for asylum as protection against removal. So the places where they're filing for asylum, that's where the migrants are living," Gelatt said. 

Of the 10 states with the most asylum filings, half are blue states led by Democrats, including California and New York, two blue strongholds with more asylum filings than any other state. 

Unauthorized immigrants are traditionally concentrated in big cities that tend to be blue, with six in 10 living in just 20 metro areas. 

We found the majority of major cities in those areas have mayors who are Democrats, including New York, where Eric Adams recently declared an immigration emergency. 

We asked Governor DeSantis' office what he meant when he said the burden of unauthorized immigration falls on red states.  We have not heard back. 


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