Westchester County is a diverse and vibrant community. Approximately 25% of the population is foreign born. This includes people born in countries around the world, but the largest portion (56%) come from Latin America. In addition to a large population of new immigrants, Westchester is home to an ethnically and racially diverse population. 23% of the county population is Hispanic or Latino, 13.4% is African American, and 5.7% is Asian.
Q: Do most of the immigrants in Westchester come from Mexico?
A: No. Of the foreign-born population, a little over 50% come from Latin America (the other 50% come mostly from Europe and Asia). The countries with the highest representation include Mexico (10%), Jamaica (7%), Dominican Republic (7%), and Ecuador (7%). In Mount Kisco, more immigrants come from Guatemala (33%) than from any other country.
Q: How many of the immigrants in Westchester are undocumented?
A: The Migration Policy Institute estimates that 61,000 people living in Westchester County are undocumented. This is approximately 6% of the county’s total population of 1 million people.
Q: Are children of undocumented immigrants considered US citizens? Why?
A: Yes, any child born in the United States is a US citizen. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that there are 19,000 undocumented parents in Westchester currently living with at least one child who is a US citizen.
Q: Why do immigrants settle here in Westchester County instead of the city?
A: In recent years, more employment opportunities for new immigrants have become available in the suburbs. These jobs include low-wage domestic work in supporting dual-income families, landscaping, construction, restaurant work, and other service jobs.
Q: How much money do immigrants send back to their home countries?
A: Immigrants do often send small amounts of money to families in their home countries. However, these remittances do not stop immigrants from spending money in the United States. In addition to sales, property, and income taxes, immigrants spend significant money on goods and services in their communities. According to a report by the Inter-American Development Bank, 93% of money made by Latin American immigrants stays in the United States, with only 7% being sent back to their home countries. Additionally, money sent back to home countries often allows familiy members to remain in their country instead of migrating for economic survival.
Q: If immigrants are undocumented, do they pay taxes?
A: The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) released a study showing that undocumented immigrants across the US paid an estimated $11.84 billion in state and local taxes in 2012. Like anyone who purchases goods and services, immigrants pay sales taxes. Immigrants also pay property taxes directly if they own homes or indirectly if they rent. The ITEP report also estimates that “at least 50% of undocumented immigrant households file income tax returns using Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs).” In New York State, it is estimated that undocumented immigrants contribute over $1 billion in state and local taxes annually. Finally, the Social Security Administration estimates that undocumented immigrants contribute about $12 billion each year to the cash flow of the program without receiving benefits in return because of their status.