Threats to Immigrants Impact Us All

Threats to Immigrants Impact Us All

In recent decades, Greater New Haven has been a destination for a historically large and diverse number of immigrants. One in eight residents are first-generation immigrants1, part of a modern U.S. immigration wave that began in 1965 and accelerated in the 1990s and early 2000s2.

Most immigrants are either naturalized citizens or legal residents. A sizeable number, however, are undocumented immigrants with no legal path to citizenship. They include parents of U.S. citizen children, college students who were brought here at young ages, and fully-employed community members of a decade or longer. Recent federal immigration policies put this community under a heightened risk of deportation, potentially destabilizing Greater New Haven families, friendships, neighborhoods, businesses, and communities.

The Numbers

  • 75,000 people in Greater New Haven (12 % of the population) are foreign-born. Top countries of origin, in order: Mexico; China; India; Italy; Jamaica; Poland3
  • Since 2000, the number of foreign-born people in Greater New Haven has increased by 37 %. In New Haven, by more than 50%4.
  • An estimated 14,430 undocumented immigrants live in Greater New Haven, or 2 % of the population5.
  • 6 out of 10 undocumented immigrants have lived in the U.S. 10 years or longer6.
  • 41 % of immigrants in Greater New Haven have a bachelor’s degree or higher, as compared to 28 % of immigrants in the U.S.7.
  • There are two high-skilled immigrants for every one low-skilled immigrant living in Greater New Haven8.

The Destabilizing Threat of Deportation

Federal policies under the new presidential administration have significantly expanded the number of people at risk of deportation. While immigration agents were previously directed to prioritize violent felons and gang members for removal, new orders authorize the aggressive deportation of anyone in the country illegally9.

The new policies impact thousands of local residents, including an estimated 26,000 undocumented immigrant parents of U.S .citizen children living in Connecticut, according to DataHaven, potentially making the children vulnerable to placement in foster care. In addition, thousands of young adults who are in college and working under the protection of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a temporary status that exempts them from deportation, could be targeted for removal when their exemptions expire.

Recent immigrants vital contributors to economic growth in Greater New Haven. As shown in The Community Foundation report, Understanding the Impact of Immigration in Greater New Haven, bring a diversity of skills and cultural perspectives, a high commitment to family, a strong work ethic, and entrepreneurial ideas that significantly contribute to the region. These community benefits are undermined by policies that create fear and erect barriers to the fuller integration of immigrants.

What the Community Foundation is Doing

Leadership Strategy

Now more than ever, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven is committed to creating a welcoming community for all immigrants. The Foundation's leadership strategy that aims to help all immigrants in Greater New Haven, including undocumented immigrants, achieve greater civic and economic participation and success. 

A recent strategy grant to the Connecticut Immigration Rights Alliance is helping to advance a statewide campaign to provide “know your rights” education materials to immigrants and build an attorney network for assisting detained individuals and their families.

The Foundation joined two hundred other foundations in signing a joint statement developed by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees supporting the role and contributions of immigrants and refugees in our society. 


Since 2014, The Community Foundation has invested $668,000 in key nonprofits that are addressing immigrant issues including: 

Grantee Spotlight

Lucas Codognolla , Lead Organizer, CT Students for a Dream (C4D)Photo credit: Ian Christmann

Lucas Codognolla is the Lead Organizer for CT Students for a Dream (C4D), which successfully advocated for the right of undocumented students to be eligible for in-state tuition at Connecticut public colleges and universities. Today, C4D continues to fight for equity on behalf of undocumented students and their families. 

“Realizing the injustices that are in play — and taking action and getting small victories — encourages us to keep fighting for more,” says Codognolla. “In my experience in becoming an activist and being an organizer, when people becoming politicized and start realizing their agency and that their story has power, we can create change. That motivates me to keep doing the work.”

Works Cited

  2. Buchanan, Mary , and Mark Abraham. Understanding the Impact of Immigration in Greater New Haven. Report. New Haven, CT: The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, 2015. 6. 
  3. ibid 
  4. ibid 
  5. ibid, 7. 
  6. ibid, 11. 
  7. ibid, 6. 
  8. ibid, 16. 

© The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
May 2017


70 Audubon Street
New Haven, CT 06510



Sign Up for E-news