NYC Immigration Statistics: Living in NYC in the Trump Era

With immigrants from over 150 countries,1 approximately 37% of its population,2 NYC truly is a melting pot city. Foreign-born New Yorkers are an integral part of the city's economy, making up a staggering 44% of NYC’s workforce.3 The American Immigration Council reported significant immigrant representation in health care and social assistance, food services, retail, construction, warehousing, and transportation.

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While immigrants play an essential role in the economic health of NYC, immigration statistics reveal there are still barriers that prohibit them from living a normal life in the city. Hate crimes, the travel ban, the spike in deportations, and human traffickers prevent NYC immigrants from enjoying the same privileges and opportunities as natural-born citizens.

NYC Immigration Statistics Point to Rising Hate Crimes, Profiling, and Deportations

NYC and the Travel Ban

New York has the largest population of foreign-born immigrants in the world,4 9% of whom are Muslim.5 Many have immigrated from Muslim majority countries including Yemen, Syria, and Iran.

When the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s travel ban from Muslim countries in 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly publicized his disapproval.6

In 2018, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs7 reported the travel ban inhibited NYC’s deeply-integrated immigrant community’s ability to see their families. As a result, the city experienced a 100% decrease in admitted refugees from ban-affected countries between 2016 and 2018.


NYC and Muslim American Profiling

Following Trump’s travel ban in 2017, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs reported a 31% increase of bias crimes8 compared to the same time in the previous year. That same year, race, ethnicity, and ancestry was the highest recorded motivation for hate crimes in the United States. Of the 50 states, New York has experienced the third-most hate crimes, indicating it still has a long way to go to embrace its diverse population.9


NYC and ICE Deportations

The Trump administration’s immigration policies have made many Americans feel as though the threat of deportation is looming around every corner. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported an increase in deportations in 2017 and again in 2018. In New York specifically, the city saw a 150% increase in arrests made by its local ICE officers between fiscal years 2016-2018. In that same time frame, New York also experienced a shocking 265.6% increase in deportations of individuals with no criminal record.10


NYC and Human Trafficking

Defined by the New York Department of Labor as “...the use of force, fraud or coercion to make someone work against their will,” human trafficking is an unfortunate reality for immigrants in the United States.11 The U.S. Department of State estimates that as many as 17,500 individuals are trafficked in the United States. Unfortunately, a majority of those cases come from New York, California, and Florida, all of which have a large immigrant population.12 For captive immigrants, the language barrier, lack of familial support, and the risk of deportation or false arrest are often enough to manipulate them into forced labor.


While NYC is taking strides to establish a culture of inclusion, the statistics show the city still has room to grow. Immigrants are still dealing with discrimination and hate crimes, as a result of recent political conflict. Help NYC immigrants live safer, more equitable lives not only in New York but across the country by getting involved in local organizations such as 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Amnesty International, Asia Society, City Lore, Human Rights Watch, For Freedoms, Museum of the City of New York, New York Anti-Trafficking Network, Opportunity Agenda, Open Society Foundations, and the Tenement Museum.


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