2 Aug 2017
Washington, D.C.

There may be potentially 4 million foreign nationals who are already “half-amnestied” through a federal work permit program, an immigration expert argues.

Center for Immigration Studies Fellow David North reviewed newly released data from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and found that the population of foreign nationals in the country on Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) may have reached an estimated 4 million.

As North explains, EADs are given to foreign nationals so they can legally work in the U.S., like the illegal aliens who are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

North says that because the 2017 population of EAD foreign nationals is expected to reach 2.1 million, according to USCIS, that leaves another potential 2 million EAD population that has yet to leave the U.S. from previously being approved for work in prior years:

"Since an EAD can be valid for a few months to many years to a lifetime (in a handful of cases), my best guess is that the estimated 2.1 million EADs expected to be issued this fiscal year suggests a current population of some four million working aliens in what I am calling “half-amnestied” status. These aliens can work legally for a while, but do not have permanent legal status, though some of them will get that status ultimately."

"It’s well known that the government rarely publishes population figures, but it does release work-load data such as EAD issuances, leaving the conversion of these data to population estimates to others, such as the Center."

USCIS data shows that the EAD foreign national population – those given permission to work freely in the U.S. – has soured in recent years. In 2014, there were 1.2 million EADs approved to come to the U.S. to work.

Two years later, the EAD foreign national population increased by close to 700,000. Now, it sits at more than 2.1 million, with the majority – 480,400 foreign nationals – getting permission to work through DACA.