Information on our illegal immigration numbers
Our illegal immigration numbers are based on an estimated twenty million illegal aliens having been present in our nation as of January 1, 2004.
In a letter dated February 2004, no less an authority than Arizona Senator John McCain recognized that Border Patrol apprehension figures demonstrated that "almost four million people crossed our borders illegally 2002" (read McCain's letter ) – experts on the subject agree that illegal crossings have only increased since then.
The Tucson sector Border Patrol union local 2544 on the number of illegal aliens in our nation: "There are currently 15 to 20 million illegal aliens in this country by many estimates, but the real numbers could be much higher and the numbers increase every day because our borders are not secure (no matter what the politicians tell you - don't believe them for a second)". (Visit the local's website ).
In agreement with Senator McCain, we believe that an increase of 10,000 total additional illegal aliens added to the United States population each day.
This reflects figures that include illegal aliens successfully entering our nation combined with those who overstay their visas.
We are of the educated opinion that we are conservatively low in our estimation.
In a one hour documentary, Immigrant Nation - Divided Country originally aired in October 2004, CNN estimated that "7 – 20 million" people were "living in this country illegally".
CNN's Lou Dobbs, a highly educated authority on the illegal immigration crisis in our nation regularly uses a figure of "20 million" when discussing the number of illegal aliens on his broadcast "Lou Dobbs Tonight" (Monday - Friday 6 pm & 11 pm eastern time, CNN, see March 2, 2005 transcript ).
In April 2003, Georgia state Senator - and national board member of MALDEF - Sam Zamarripa told the Georgia state senate that there were 20 million illegals in the U.S. at the time.
We are aware that others offer lower estimates.
In a September 2004 report on our un-secure borders Who Left the Door Open?. Time magazine used an estimation of 15 million illegals present in the U.S. using reasoning similar to ours – but with much more optimistic U.S. Border Patrol apprehension rates.
President George W. Bush and then Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, used a figure of "8-12 million" illegal aliens in December 2003.
Other reports - including one recently released by the Pew Hispanic Center and figures used by the Center for Immigration Studies quoting 10 - 11 million illegal aliens present in the U.S. - rely heavily on U.S. Census data that many, we at TAR included, believe to be incomplete, inaccurate and artificially low.
An independent study of the underground economy released in January 2005 by the Wall Street financial firm Bear Stearns, The Underground Labor Force is Rising to the Surface. produced estimates of 18-20 million illegal aliens present in the United States.
We stand by our stated estimation.
Please see below for a more detailed analysis and explanation.
Analysis and explanation
This section first developed and posted in August, 2004 and was
was updated in February 2005, July, 2005 and February, 2007. The
detailed analysis in this section was completed in September, 2004
by Fred Elbel and was published in the Fall, 2005 Social Contract.
The following analysis is based upon the article titled Could There Be Twenty Million Illegals In The U.S.?". by D.A. King, THE AMERICAN RESISTANCE FOUNDATION, published on VDARE. August 7, 2004. 20
The purpose of this analysis is to present illegal immigration numbers that are more realistic than numbers being presented by the federal government – the very entity responsible for the tidal wave of illegal aliens entering our nation.
This analysis demonstrates that the December, 2003 Department of Homeland Security estimates of 8-12 million illegal aliens in the United States and 700,000 new illegals entering and staying per year represent significant undercounts.
This analysis shows that it is reasonable to state that more than 20 million illegal aliens reside in the United States and approximately 10,000 illegal aliens enter the United States every day, or, as Arizona Senator John McCain reports – almost four million per year.
This analysis also demonstrates that the proposed White House "guest worker" amnesty proposal of January, 2004 resulted in at least a 25% increase in the number of illegal aliens entering into the United States.
The precise number of illegals entering the United States and the exact rate at which they cross our borders is unknown. Official government estimates are difficult to obtain and are routinely sanitized.
The estimate of the number of illegals who enter depends on Border Patrol apprehension rates and estimates of the number that "got away". The following sections present several approaches to estimating the number of illegals and the impact of amnesty proposals on illegal immigration numbers.
1. How many illegal aliens are there in the U.S.?
The Department of Homeland Security estimated in December, 2003, that 8 million to 12 million illegal aliens resided in the United States and 700,000 new illegals enter and stay each year. These official estimates are somewhat suspect and may represent significant undercounts, as they are produced by the very entity responsible for the tidal wave of illegal aliens entering our nation nation - the United States Government. An alternative methodology is used here to estimate a range of numbers of illegals that is likely more realistic.
The precise number of illegals entering the United States and the exact rate at which they cross our borders are unknown. Official government numbers are often hard to come by and are routinely sanitized. 7, 12 In this analysis, the estimate of the number of illegals in the U.S. is derived from U.S. Border Patrol apprehension rates and estimates of the number that "get away" - those that evade apprehension. This "get away" number is not reliably known, but can be estimated, therefore the methodology based upon this factor will produce a range of results as opposed to a single projection.
This methodology consists of the following steps:
- Estimate the gross number of illegals entering the U.S. as well as the number of those that evade apprehension by the Border Patrol. A "get away" ratio is applied to the numbers of illegals entering, resulting in a gross estimate of illegals entering and evading apprehension.
overall estimate. Some illegal aliens voluntarily return home in less than year.
Step 1: Estimate the gross numbers of illegals entering the U.S.
Census figures show that 90 percent of illegal immigration comes from Latin America, with 70 percent of the total from Mexico. 26 The last decade has witnessed a tidal wave of illegal Mexican immigration. The Center for Immigration Studies noted:
"Indeed, the last decade saw an unprecedented number of Mexicans cross the U.S. border. Between 1990 and 2000, their number doubled - from 4.2 million to 9.2 million, or 30 percent of the entire foreign-born population in the United States. Within this number, unauthorized Mexicans grew by more than 100 percent - from 2 million to 4.8 million, or 69 percent of all illegal aliens in the United States."
Though the Mexican government should be embarrassed that 10 percent of its people have fled to the U.S. from Mexico, President Vicente Fox's administration has embraced this reality. In fact, increasing the number of Mexicans working illegally in the United States is among Mexico's highest foreign policy objectives. 30
U.S. Government estimates of illegal aliens residing in the United States have been uniformly low. 18 On December 9, 2003, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge stated that there were 8 million to 12 million illegal aliens in the United States. 1 The corrected U.S. Census Bureau estimate for 2003 was 8 million 2 ; other Census data extrapolated to more like 10 million, and it recently has been questioned whether the actual number is much higher. 20 Referring to a 2001 Northeastern University study stating that there were 11 million illegal aliens in the United States as opposed to U.S. Government estimates of 6 million, 18 the Federation for American Immigration Reform stated:
"It is inconceivable that official estimates could be that far off the mark unless someone was deliberately trying to mislead the American public." 28
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) stated in February, 2004, that according to U.S. Border Patrol apprehension statistics, almost 4 million illegal aliens entered the U.S. illegally in 2002. 5 (More than half of all illegal immigration into the U.S. comes through Arizona).
Of these 4 million, some were apprehended and removed, while most of them evaded apprehension and succeeded in reaching their interior destinations. How many were apprehended? The answer to this question clearly affects the number of illegals that are believed to reside within the United States. The Border Patrol provides numbers of apprehensions, 6 but generally declines to answer specific questions regarding apprehension rates. However, Arizona's representative Jim Kolbe has testified to Senator McCain in a Congressional hearing on June 17, 2004, that the Border Patrol "figure about one out of four or five are apprehended". 9 Michael Nicley, Chief, Tucson Sector, U.S. Border Patrol, stated in a private telephone conversation in 2004 that, "It's more like seven."
This author has visited the Arizona and has personally observed the situation on the ground. Border Patrol agents who were brave enough to share their own insights have stated that in their opinion, the Border Patrol is not apprehending anywhere close to one out of three or four illegal crossers. and that significantly larger numbers evade apprehension. 7, 12, 14
In November, 2006 the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security reported that federal law enforcement estimates 10 percent to 30 percent of illegal aliens are actually apprehended and 10 percent to 20 percent of drugs are seized. Therefore, in 2005, as many as 4 to 10 million illegal aliens crossed into the United States. 37
Indeed, in July of 2005, the U.S. Border Patrol Local 2544 stated on their website that "There are currently 15 to 20 million illegal aliens in this country by many estimates, but the real numbers could be much higher and the numbers increase every day because our borders are not secure. " 36
Using Senator McCain's number of 4 million entering illegally in 2002 5 and a generous official apprehension rate of one out of four means that 3 million were not apprehended and therefore remained in the U.S.
It also should be noted that this figure does not include the millions who the Government Accountability Office (GAO, formerly called the Government Accounting Office) tell us enter legally on temporary visas and continue to stay after their visas expire. 13
Because the U.S. government routinely sanitizes statistics, 7, 12 the number of illegal entries into the United States is almost certainly higher than official numbers. In fact, Forbes Magazine estimates that only four percent of illegal aliens crossing in Texas are apprehended and prosecuted. 15
Detailed approaches to yearly calculations
Senator John McCain stated in February of 2004 that almost 4 million illegal aliens crossed our borders illegally in 2002. 5 If one out of four were apprehended, that would mean in the year 2002, 3 million illegals entered and evaded apprehension (4 million x 3/4).
Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security, Asa Hutchinson, stated in June, 2004, that arrests of illegal aliens in Arizona had increased to 3,000 daily from an average of about 2,000 a day since March. 11 The increase in apprehensions can be attributed in part to additional Border Patrol agents, "but more than half of the promised U.S. Border Patrol agents have not arrived. 11 Thus, it is highly likely that the numbers of illegal aliens entering the U.S. through Arizona had commensurately increased.
Below are several approaches used to converge on the number of illegals entering on a yearly basis:
- Official Border Patrol statistics stated that in 2001 there were 1,676,438 total U.S. border apprehensions. 6 If one out of four were apprehended as the Border Patrol officially states, that would mean that in the year 2001, 5 million illegals entered and evaded apprehension (1,676,438 x 3). Table I summarizes illegal entries at various apprehension rates.
Table I summarizes calculations used by these three approaches.