What Is Undocumented Immigrant? Briefly Explained In 2021

by Legal 28 April 2021

undocumented immigrant

Undocumented Immigrant” we have heard this term often. But do you know what exactly undocumented immigrants mean? The number of undocumented or unauthorized immigrants in the United States is really huge. 

So, it is important to know what actually is “undocumented,” the term with an immigrant means. It will help to understand the situation properly. Here I will give you all the necessary information that you will need to understand what undocumented immigrant means.

What Is DACA?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival or DACA is a particular immigration policy only for the United States of America. This law let people, who are unlawfully present in the United States, stay in the U.S. after they were brought to this country when they were a child. 

Basically, this immigration policy offers those people a renewable period of 2 years of delayed action from deportation. On the other hand, this also helps them in becoming eligible for a work permit. 

Back in 2012, when that time President Barack Obama took a decision that all those immigrants, who were young should not get deported, and this policy was made for them. He had also announced that as long as these people fulfilled the dream Act requirements, he was going to stop deportation for them. 

And as a result of this, those Dreamers had a better life. Here are some of the examples. 

  • Within the United States, those people with DACA status were able to travel. 
  • They were able to work.
  • They also could drive legally.
  • DACA status also offers those people the options of more academic and career opportunities. 

As a result of all these opportunities, those DACA people were able to secure better jobs, cars, and houses. Let’s be more specific with some statistics

  • 56% were able to get jobs that have much better conditions.
  • 69% were able to get high salaried jobs. 
  • 16% bought their very first home.
  • 65% bought their first car. 

But DACA was not securing any path for them to get the status of permanent citizenship. That means these people still fall under the category of undocumented immigrants. There is another thing that you need to know is just because those people did not have any legal status.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump had taken an initiative to end this very program. In the year 2017, in the month of September, he attempted to cancel the program. 

But as the court blocked his attempt, he failed to become successful with this. Though in November 2019, there was another discussion regarding the fact that whether Mr. President Donald Trump is allowed to pull apart the program or not. 

And all this has ended in favor of those Dreamers. The attempt of the administrations to end this program was blocked. For now, those thousands of undocumented immigrants at least will not be deported. This was the decision for which a lot of people were waiting for. 

What Are The Differences Between An Undocumented Immigrant And The Illegal Alien?

Both the terms illegal alien and undocumented immigrant are used interchangeably. And there is also an all-time debate on which term should be used or is correct to use. In most cases, the politicians and media generally use the term illegal immigrants or illegal aliens. 

On the other hand, the immigrant advocacy and rights group is not at all in favor of the term ‘illegal alien.’ Rather they prefer other options, such as “undocumented,” “unauthorized,” “unlawfully present,” “without status,” or “non-citizens.”

In case you are confused about whether there is any difference between them or not, here is the definition of illegal alien and also an undocumented immigrant.

Undocumented Immigrant 

The term undocumented immigrant refers to a person who was born in a different country and illegally came to the United States of America. More specifically, those people do not have any legal documents to give them the legal rights of living in the States. 

Illegal Alien

Theoretically, an undocumented immigrant and an illegal alien are the same things. However, the technical term that you will find in immigration laws is not an illegal alien. This term is really insulting for the immigrants. This is why the term “undocumented immigrant” is preferred. 

Why Can Not The “Undocumented Immigrants” Just “Get Legal”?

It is really easy to say that, but in reality, they can not do that. All undocumented immigrants are restricted from applying for a green card during the time they are in the United States. Though many American has an idea that those undocumented immigrants can just submit some papers and all will be done. 

You may probably think that why do they not go back to their home country and apply at a United States consulate? But there are a bunch of outdated laws that will prevent them from returning. They need to keep in mind some certain bars. 

In case any immigrant lives in the United States for 6 months, then that immigrant will be barred for a minimum of 3 years. And in case the living time period in the United States exceeds one year, then the baring time duration will become 10 years. 

And this ban will remain the same after the immigrant marries someone from the United States or has a child or children who are U.S or LPR citizens. Though there are some waivers available, this is not for every single case. 

Even once the ban period ends, there is no guarantee that the immigrant will be allowed to return to the United States. 


So the question that was in your head, “What is an undocumented immigrant?” has the answer now. And apart from getting the answer, you also get some basic idea about the condition of undocumented immigrants in the United States of America. 

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Mashum Mollah is the feature writer of Search Engine Magazine and an SEO Analyst at Real Wealth Business. Over the last 3 years, He has successfully developed and implemented online marketing, SEO, and conversion campaigns for 50+ businesses of all sizes. He is the co-founder of Social Media Magazine.

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