According to the report, Undocumented Students in Higher Education: How Many Students Are in U.S. Colleges and Universities, and Who Are They, there are more than 408,000 undocumented students attending U.S. colleges and universities. Of those students, 46% are Hispanic, 27% are Asian American Pacific Islander, nearly 14% are Black and 10% are white.
The data and commentary released by the nonprofit group Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration estimates immigrant-origin students are the fastest growing group of students in higher education in the U.S., driving 80% of all domestic enrollment from 2000 to 2021. The group defines immigrant-origin students as first generation by being born abroad to non-citizen parents and second generation by being born in the U.S. with at least one immigrant parent.
The Presidents’ Alliance says over a third of undocumented graduate students have undergraduate degrees in STEM and healthcare-related fields.
“(Immigrant-origin students) play a particularly important role in the science, technology, engineering, and math sector of the economy.” said Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, Chancellor at University of Massachusetts, Boston. “Approximately a quarter of all STEM workers in our country and well over a quarter of all physicians and surgeons practicing in the United States are of immigrant origin.”
According to the study, three-quarters of undocumented students in higher education come from 12 states, but most hail from California, Texas, Florida and New York.
The more than 408,000 undocumented students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities represent 1.9% of all college students across the country. The percentage represents a decline since 427,000 undocumented students were enrolled in 2019.
The Presidents’ Alliance thinks increasing the number of college graduates may fuel more economic growth in communities and close workforce gaps in healthcare, education and other fields.