How many illegal aliens reside in the United States? A methodology using Border Patrol "got away" statistics

By Fred Elbel, copyright 2004-2016

Overview

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 stale, official estimates are indeed suspect and certainly represent significant undercounts, as they are produced by the very entity responsible for the tidal wave of illegal aliens entering our nation - the United States Government.  As of 2014, those estimates have not changed for eleven years, even though the official annual increase alone would yield an corrected estimate of 15.7 million to 19.7 million illegal aliens today (not adjusting for Obama's unconstitutional 2014 executive amnesty). 

An alternative methodology is used in this analysis to produce a much more realistic estimate of the number of illegal aliens. This estimate is based on Border Patrol apprehension rates and estimates of the number of ilegals that escaped apprehension - referred to by Border Patrol agents as "got aways".

This was undertaken in 2004 and updated in 2007. It has been published on DesertInvasion as Illegal immigration invasion numbers analysis and in the Summer 2007 Social Contract issue How many illegal aliens are in the U.S.? in the article How Many Illegal Aliens Are in the U.S.? - An Alternative Methodology for Discovering the Numbers. The Summer 2007 issue of The Social Contract is well worth reading; it focuses on several approaches for estimating the number of illegal aliens who have avoided apprehension and are living in the United States.

This analysis concluded that based upon the analysis presented here, it is likely that in mid-2005 more than 20 million illegal aliens presently resided in the United States, with up to 12,000 additional illegal aliens entering every day during peak invasion months.

Under the Obama administration, the Border Patrol has been essentially incapicated, Obama's DACA amnesty has been issued, the child illegal alien invasion has occurred, and deportation numbers have been fudged. It would be reasonable to project that if 20 million illegal aliens were present in 2005, 38 to 40 million illegal aliens could certainly reside in the United States in 2014.

Indeed, 38 million to 40 million illegal aliens were estimated to reside in the United States in 2007 - see Illegal Aliens: Counting the Uncountable by James H. Walsh, The Social Contract, Summer, 2007.

This analysis does not factor in the unconstitutional Obama amnesty travesty of November 20, 2014. Calculations to do so would include the following steps:

  1. Select a realistic number of illegal aliens present in 2007 based on this study or equivalent analysis.
  2. Extrapolate the number to the the current year.
  3. Subtract 5 million illegal aliens who were amnestied by the Obama royal decree.
  4. Factor in increased inflow of illegal aliens based upon the incentive of future amnesty coupled with Obama's blatant non-enforcement of existing immigration laws and deemphasized border security.

Contents:

  1. How many illegal aliens are there in the U.S.?
  2. Step 1: Estimate the gross numbers of illegals entering the U.S.
  3. Step 2: Factor in repeat apprehensions of the same individuals
  4. Step 3: Factor "short term" stays and legalization from the overall estimate
  5. Step 4: Estimate the total number of illegal aliens in the U.S.
  6. Considerations regarding illegal immigration numbers:
  7.    Mexico's fertility and growth rate
  8.    Proportion of illegals from countries other than Mexico
  9.    Visa overstays contribute to illegal alien numbers
  10. Impact of amnesty proposals on illegal immigration numbers
  11. Conclusion
  12. References

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.

Methodology

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:

  1. 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.
     
  2. Factor in repeat apprehensions of the same individuals and legalizations out of the overall estimate. Many illegal aliens who are apprehended and are returned home try to enter the U.S. again and are subsequently apprehended. Others are legalized and are allowed to stay in the U.S.
     
  3. Factor "short term stays" out of the overall estimate. Some illegal aliens voluntarily return home in less than year.
     
  4. Estimate the total number of illegal aliens living in the United States, based upon the estimate of illegals entering and evading apprehension each 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 million2; 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 border 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 20025 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:

  1. 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.
     
  2. Official Border Patrol statistics stated that in 2002 there were 955,310 total U.S. border apprehensions6 (this is significantly lower than apprehensions in 2000 and 2001). With a one out of four apprehension rate, then in the year 2002, 2.9 million illegals would have entered and evaded apprehension (955,310 x 3).
     
  3. Official Border Patrol statistics stated that there were 888,480 total U.S. border apprehensions from January 1, 2004 to June 30, 2004.6 If one out of four were apprehended, then in the year 2004, 2.7 million illegals entered and evaded apprehension in that six month period (888,480 x 3). Assuming that a similar number of illegals enter in each six month period, this works out to 5.3 million per year. Table I summarizes calculations used by these three approaches.

Table I summarizes calculations used by these approaches.

Table I

Gross estimates of numbers of illegals entering and evading apprehension yearly.
 

(millions of illegal aliens per year)
Apprehension rate 2001 2002 2004
1 out of 4 (official Border Patrol rate) 5.0 2.9 5.3
1 out of 7 10.1 5.7 10.7

 

Step 2: Factor in repeat apprehensions of the same individuals

An illegal alien typically pays a coyote $1,500 U.S. or more to guide their illegal border crossing. Although a crossing is an expensive proposition, many illegals who are apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol may try again several times until they make it across the border.31

Precise data on the numbers who attempt reentry into the United States are not available. For the purposes of this analysis, the assumption is made that every single illegal alien who is apprehended and returned home subsequently tries again and successfully evades apprehension on his second attempt.

Under this assumption, of every four illegals reported in line one of Table I, we will assume one (the one apprehended) to be double-counted. (Although perhaps a questionable assumption, this is consistent with actual observations31). The numbers in line one of Table I therefore are assumed to include a 25 percent overcount. Line 2 of Table I is similarly assumed to represent a 14 percent overcount.

Table II shows the result of reducing values in Table I by these overcounts in order to factor out repeat apprehensions.

Table II

Step 2: Results after factoring out repeat apprehensions
 

(millions of illegal aliens per year)
Apprehension rate 2001 2002 2004
1 out of 4 (official Border Patrol rate) 3.8 2.2 4
1 out of 7 8.7 4.9 9.2

 

Table II show an adjusted low-range of 2.2 million to 4 million illegals entering annually and evading apprehension using the official optimistic one out of four apprehension rate.

Using similar logic and data, TIME Magazine subsequently reached the conclusion that 3 million illegals enter and stay annually,22 while using the most optimistic assumption that the Border Patrol apprehends one out of three illegal crossers.

Step 3: Factor "short term" stays and legalization from the overall estimate

Table II, above, shows the number of illegals entering, but those numbers must be adjusted downward to account for illegals returning home each year or receiving legal status as part of the normal "legal" immigration process.

It is difficult to determine how many illegal aliens stay here permanently, or at least remain for a period of several years. Representative Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) testified in 2004 that males no longer go back home but instead stay in the United States and then send for their families.9 Veteran Border Patrol agents have confirmed that illegal aliens are now coming here to stay.14

Yet a certain proportion of illegals return home each year after only a temporary stay in the United States.32 The INS estimated in 2001 that several hundred thousand illegals return home each year or receive legal status as part of the normal "legal" immigration process.19 The Center for Immigration Studies reported that in 1999, the INS estimated that:

  • 968,000 new illegal aliens settled in the United States
  • 210,000 illegal aliens either died or returned home on their own
  • 63,000 were removed (deported) by the INS
  • 183,000 were given green cards as part of the normal "legal" immigration process.3

The following table shows the results of applying INS estimates and thus assumes a generous estimate that 500,000 illegal aliens currently return home, are removed (deported), or receive legal status each year. Here, a projected average of between 2.8 and 7.1 illegal aliens are shown to be entering and staying annually.

Table III

Step 3 (a): Factoring out returns and legalizations.
Illegals entering and staying yearly, assuming 500,000 return
home or receive legal status each year.

 

(millions of illegal aliens per year)
Apprehension rate 2001 2002 2004 Average
1 out of 4 (official Border Patrol rate) 3.3 1.7 3.5 2.8
1 out of 7 8.2 4.4 8.7 7.1

 

It may be argued that Table III contains inadequate adjustments - that since Table II presents total numbers significantly higher than official estimates, the number of illegals returning home must be increased accordingly. Although such an argument tends to contradict current information indicating that illegals are no longer returning home as they were in the past,9, 14 it is nevertheless interesting to see how the numbers play under this argument.

The following table shows the results of an overly generous assumption that one-third of illegal aliens in the U.S. either return home or are legalized each year.

Table IV

Step 3 (b): Factoring out returns and legalizations
Illegals entering and staying yearly, assuming one-third return
home or receive legal status each year.

 

(millions of illegal aliens per year)
Apprehension rate 2001 2002 2004 Average
1 out of 4 (official Border Patrol rate) 2.5 1.5 2.7 2.2
1 out of 7 5.8 3.3 6.2 5.1

 

Table IV shows a projected average of between 2.2 and 5.1 illegal aliens entering and staying annually - a lower range than presented in Table III.

Based on the results shown in Tables III and IV, it is reasonable to suggest that a medium-range figure of 12,000 illegal aliens enter the U.S. every day, or about 4 million per year. Indeed, Time Magazine reports that along the 65-mile-long border of the Tohono O'odham Indian Nation with Mexico, up to 1,500 illegals are apprehended every day (with many more evading apprehension).22

Mortality of illegals is assumed not to significantly reduce a these numbers. Although a certain number of illegals undoubtedly die each year, the overall mortality of the illegal alien population is presumed to be relatively low because of the young age (about 25 years of age34) of those entering the U.S. illegally. Thus, Census Bureau mortality data almost certainly does not correlate with illegal alien numbers, and therefore can not be used as a proxy for those numbers.

Step 4: Estimate the total number of illegal aliens in the U.S.

Could there be 20 million illegal aliens in the U.S.?

In 2003, Georgia state Senator – and MALDEF national board member – Sam Zamarripa told the Georgia state senate that there were 20 million illegals in the U.S. at the time.8 This 20 million amounts to more than 6 percent of our current U.S. population (296 million in mid-2005) and is larger than the population of most states.

A January 3, 2005 Bear Stearns report, "The Underground Labor Force Is Rising To The Surface," sharply criticized Census Bureau estimates of the illegal alien population as being incomplete and inaccurate, and concluded that "The number of illegal immigrants in the United States may be as high as 20 million people, more than double the official 9 million people estimated by the Census Bureau."35

In other words, possibly one out of every 15 persons in the United States might well be an illegal alien.

Using traditional Department of Homeland Security estimates of 700,000 illegal aliens entering and saying each year, it would take 28.6 years to amass 20 million. If it is assumed that 1 million illegals enter and stay annually then the time to amass 20 million would be 20 years.

Thus, even the relatively low official numbers lead us to conclude that we have quite possibly amassed nearly 20 million illegal aliens in the United States since the 1986 "amnesty to end all amnesties." The following table shows the number of years it would take to amass 20 million illegal aliens in the U.S.

Table V

Years to amass 20 million illegal aliens

Permanent illegals per year Years to amass 20 million
700,000 (Department of Homeland Security) 28.6
1 million 20.0
2.2 million (Table IV, official Border Patrol 1 out of 4 apprehensions) 9.1
3 million (Time Magazine) 6.6
4 million (Sen. McCain) 5.0
5.1 million (Table IV, 1 out of 7 apprehensions) 4.0

 

The higher yearly numbers in Table V reveal how quickly 20 million could be amassed. Based on the results of the analysis summarized in Table IV, it would take perhaps between four and nine years to amass 20 million illegal aliens in the United States at the current rate of entry.

While immigration numbers fluctuate on a yearly basis, legal immigration into the U.S. since 1986 has increased steadily, and it is reasonable to assume that illegal immigration has correspondingly increased. Although the actual number of illegal aliens in the U.S. is not precisely known, it appears quite possible that 20 million or more illegals could be living within the United States.

Considerations regarding illegal immigration numbers

Mexico's fertility and growth rate

How do the presumed 3 to 4 million illegal aliens entering and staying in the United States each year compare to population growth in Mexico, the leading supplier of illegal aliens to the U.S.?

Population Reference Bureau mid-year data show that Mexico's 2004 natural increase is 2.2 million and that actual 2003 to 2004 population increased by 1.3 million (1.2 percent).21 The difference is 0.9 million, representing the approximate legal emigration number into the United States. However, if Mexico alone is actually losing several million per year to U.S. emigration, then Mexico's rate of natural increase (2.2 million) must be high enough so that the margin of births minus deaths yields the reported population increase of 1.3 million plus several million emigrants. This would require a high fertility rate to sustain such increases. Mexico's 2004 fertility rate was only 2.8 births per woman, but it was significantly higher in the past: 5.4 in 1976 when the current generation of emigrants was first being born.23

This discrepancy could relate to the actual data source: the Mexican census. As stated by Population Reference Bureau:

"Mexico is a really thorny problem. It is a really bad problem - we don't really know their Total Fertility Rate. It's somewhere between 2.5 and three.... The (Mexican) Census was also a bit of a problem. They actually lied about the 1980 population."21

Unfortunately, due to PRB's methodology, it is not possible to calculate yearly population growth by direct comparison of one year's total population to the next.21 Thus, Mexico's true yearly population growth remains obscured.

Proportion of illegals from countries other than Mexico

Of course, not all illegal aliens come from Mexico. In 1997, the illegal alien population was 54 percent Mexican.24 The illegal alien population is currently 70 percent Mexican, with 30 percent coming from other countries.24 Latin America, including Mexico, is the source of 90 percent of illegal aliens entering into the United States.26 A 2004 Fox News article stated that "it is not just Mexicans who are flooding into our border states anymore. Along with the Nicaraguans, Brazilians, Venezuelans, Ecuadorians, and Chileans, agents of the Border Patrol now encounter Chinese, Pakistanis, and Indians. Nationals of countries other than Mexico are known, in Border Patrol parlance, as 'OTMs'" - Other Than Mexicans.10,37

Time Magazine reports that "from October 1 of last year [2003] until August 25, the Border Patrol estimates that it apprehended 55,890 OTMs".22 In November, 2006, the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security reported that based on U.S. Border Patrol statistics there were 30,147 OTMs apprehended in FY2003, 44,614 in FY2004, 165,178 in FY2005, and 108,025 in FY2006. Most of them were apprehended along the U.S. Southwest border.37 These numbers represent a distinct undercount since the Border Patrol routinely sanitizes and underreports numbers of illegals.7, 18 It is therefore reasonable to assume that Other Than Mexicans account for at least several hundred thousand illegal entries annually.

Visa overstays contribute to illegal alien numbers

Many individuals from foreign countries are issued temporary work and student visas. Those who fail to return home after the visa expires become illegal aliens. Visa overstays account for a sizeable number of illegal aliens in the United States. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) reported in 1997 that:

  • There were 170,000 new overstayers each year between 1982-1992 and 181,000 between 1992-1996.
  • The number of new illegals who joined the illegal population by Entering Without Inspection (EWI) was 250,000 from 1982 to 1988 and 242,000 from 1988 to 1996.
  • 41 percent of the illegal population are overstayers.24

The Government Accountability Office reported that significant numbers of foreign visitors overstay their authorized periods of admission. The Department of Homeland Security estimates the resident overstay population as of January 2000 at 2.3 million, not including short-term overstays. It also omits what is described as "millions of potential long-term overstays from Mexico and Canada. A more recent Department of Homeland Security estimate placed the January 2000 resident overstay population at one-third of 7 million illegal immigrants, or 2.3 million.24

5. Impact of amnesty proposals on illegal immigration numbers

On January 9, 2004, President Bush proposed a guest worker program - a thinly veiled amnesty for illegal aliens. A February 29, 2004, Fox News article subsequently stated that from 50 percent to 90 percent of illegal aliens apprehended claimed they were coming here for the "amnesty" (their words).10 One Border Patrol officer stated that "They believe that they are only responding to an invitation." Shortly thereafter, the Border Patrol was ordered not to collect this information.

Word of the amnesty had spread far beyond Mexico. Apprehensions included Nicaraguans, Brazilians, Venezuelans, Ecuadorians, Chileans, Chinese, Pakistanis, and East Indians.

By June, 2004, U.S. Border Patrol official statistics revealed that there had been 135,468 apprehensions along the southwest border during April 2004, an 80 percent increase when compared to April 2003.16 A May 23, 2004, New York Times article stated that after a 4-year drop, apprehensions were are up 30 percent over 2003 apprehensions along the entire southern border, with 660,000 people detained from October 1, 2003 through the end of April, 2004.18 Representative Kolbe testified that 155,000 people had been apprehended along the Arizona border in the first three months of 2004.9

Although correlation does not necessarily imply causation, it seems reasonable to presume a relatively modest 25 percent increase in illegal aliens starting January 15, 2004, through the rest of the year as a result of the "guest worker" proposal. This 25 percent is a conservative estimate of the increased flow of illegal aliens into the U.S. as a result of President Bush's amnesty proposal.4 In fact, official Border Patrol apprehension statistics show that total 2004 apprehensions as of June 30, 2004 represent a 190 increase over total 2003 apprehensions.6

Some of these apprehensions can be attributed to increased Border Patrol staffing levels, but since additional staffing has been only half of what was requested in 2004,11 it is logical to conclude that increased apprehensions have been due to increased illegal border crossings. Furthermore, recent Border Patrol directives have been issued, such as "sitting on X's" (ordering Border Patrol agents to stay in a fixed location for an entire shift), in order to lower apprehensions and thereby sanitize publicized statistics.12 It also stands to reason that as larger numbers of illegals cross the border, more total numbers will evade apprehension. Thus, if apprehensions are reported to be increasing in the context of these factors, it is highly likely that total illegal entries as well as the total number evading apprehension are increasing in even larger proportions.

From the preceding sections, it can be estimated that approximately 3 million to 4 million illegal aliens have entered in 2004 alone. If President Bush's amnesty proposal had actually gone into law on January 7, 2004, those approximately 3 million would be greater than the total number "legalized" in the 1986 "amnesty to end all amnesties".29

President Bush's 2004 Presidential opponent, John Kerry, had stated that the president's "legalization" plan ddid not go far enough and that he would offer legislation during the first hundred days of his administration that would offer not only amnesty, but a offer path to full, voting citizenship to the millions of illegal aliens in the U.S. If this were to happen without securing our borders, or if President Bush and subsequent presidents continue to push for amnesty, the magnet of amnesty will draw an unending stream of high numbers of illegal aliens into our country.

(Read more about the tidal wave of illegal immigration).

6. Conclusion

Intentionally low, static, and misleading official government estimates claim that 8 million to 12 million illegal aliens reside in the United States and that 700,000 new illegals enter and stay every year. Based upon the analysis presented here, it is likely that in mid-2005 more than 20 million illegal aliens presently resided in the United States, with roughly 12,000 additional illegal aliens entering every day.

No one can say with certainty how many illegal aliens enter and reside in the United States because the precise data simply are not available. The methodology used in this analysis is presented as an alternative approach to estimating illegal alien numbers. Because it depends on factors that are not known with great accuracy, it produces a wider range of estimates than traditional estimates, but can be used to present another perspective on illegal immigration numbers.

Further analysis is certainly warranted. However it is important to recognize the magnitude of the numbers in order to recognize the seriousness of the crisis and urgency for a return to the rule of law and secured borders that the United States Constitution demands.

Copyright 2004-2015 Fred Elbel.

 

7. References

1. Jerry Seper, "Ridge rapped for immigration views," Washington Times (December 11, 2003):

"Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's suggestion that 8 million to 12 million illegal aliens now in the United States be 'legalized' drew harsh criticism yesterday from congressional and other opponents of such legalization."

2. U.S. Census Bureau, www.Census.gov.

3. Center for Immigration Studies, www.CIS.org, including report on "Illegal Immigration".

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimates that in January of 2000 there were 7 million illegal aliens living in the United States, a number that is growing by half a million a year. Thus, the illegal-alien population in 2003 stands at least 8 million. Included in this estimate are approximately 78,000 illegal aliens from countries who are of special concern in the war on terror. It is important to note that the 500,000 annual increase is the net growth in the illegal-alien population (new illegal immigration minus deaths, legalizations, and out-migration). In 1999 for example, the INS estimates that 968,000 new illegal aliens settled in the U.S. This number was offset by 210,000 illegal aliens who either died or returned home on their own, 63,000 who were removed by the INS, and 183,000 illegal aliens who were given green cards as part of the normal "legal" immigration process. One of the most important findings of the INS report is the intimate link between legal and illegal immigration. The INS estimates that it gave out 1.5 million green cards to illegal aliens in the 1990s. This was not due to amnesty legislation, but rather reflects how the legal immigration process embraces illegal immigration and encourages it through legal exemptions.

The Census Bureau has also developed estimates of its own. Their estimate at the time of the 2000 Census suggests that the illegal immigration population was about 8 million. Using this number, it can be concluded that the illegal-alien population grew by almost half a million a year in the 1990s. This conclusion is derived from a draft report given to the House immigration subcommittee by the INS that estimated the illegal population was 3.5 million in 1990. For the illegal population to have reached 8 million by 2000, the net increase had to be 400,000 to 500,000 per year during the 1990s.

4. Stephen Dinan, "Bush 'amnesty' blamed for rise in illegals," Washington Times, (April 16, 2004).

5. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Letter from Sen. John McCain to citizen (February 10, 2004) (Arizona is a state with extremely high illegal numbers):

"According to the U.S. Border Patrol apprehension statistics, it is estimated that almost four million people crossed our borders illegally in 2002."

6. Telephone call, July 19, 2004, and July 27, 2004 from D.A. King (TheAmericanResistance) to Gloria Chavez, Border Patrol Spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and subsequent response by Patrol Agent Luis Gonzalez, assistant to Gloria Chavez. Their follow-up fax stated the following:
 

U.S. Border Patrol Apprehensions
Sector 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 first 6 months
Tucson 616,346 449,675 333,648 347,263 380,131
Southern 1,643,679 1,235,717 929,809 905,065 872,395
National 1,676,438 1,266,213 955,310 931,557 888,480

 

7. Retired Border Patrol Special Agent John Slagle, Illegal Entries (2004), ISBN 4-4140-4327-9. Available through AuthorHouse.com for $12.50 paperback; $4.50 electronic version. John Slagle has stated in correspondence that:

"When it comes to illegal aliens, statistics can be maddening. The U.S. Border Patrol releases sanitized, low-number figures to the public by official information officers. There is no mention in these reports of illegal aliens from the Mid-east who are arrested, nor people apprehended from red list nations - that might alarm the public. Active duty agents I know state it's all smoke and mirrors set up by D.C. plutocrats, resulting in frustration and low morale with the Border Patrol.

The official Border Patrol statistics are that one in five illegal aliens are apprehended and arrested. For agents on the line, they know better - it's much higher." [e.g., one in ten].

8. Georgia State Senator Sam Zamarripa stated that there are 20 million illegals in the U.S. His comments were made on record to the Georgia Senate on April 17, 2003 in his remarks withdrawing his amendment to Senate Bill 191. (See text and audio).

9. CNN Lou Dobbs segment (CNN, June 17, 2004). Also see video archive, and transcript.

Rep. Kolbe (R-AZ) testified that "155,000 people had been apprehended along the Arizona border in the first three months of this year", and that one out of four or five are apprehended.

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) testified that he projected 2.4 million illegals entering in 2004 - a figure based on the overly optimistic official one in four apprehension rate by the U.S. Border Patrol.

10. "Bush Amnesty Sparks Surge in Border Crossings" (Fox News, February 19, 2004):

"... more than half of the Mexicans trying to sneak into the U.S. through San Ysidro told authorities they were doing so to position themselves for the amnesty... 'They believe that they are only responding to an invitation.'... In the last several weeks, a staggering 90 percent of all illegal aliens intercepted in one sector in southern Texas claim they’ve come for the amnesty... 'The agents were soon told to stop collecting this information,' "

"Word of the 2000-mile wide open door between Mexico and the U.S. has spread far beyond Mexico. It is not just Mexicans who are flooding into our border states anymore. Along with the Nicaraguans, Brazilians, Venezuelans, Ecuadorians, and Chileans, agents of the Border Patrol now encounter Chinese, Pakistanis, and Indians. Nationals of countries other than Mexico are known, in Border Patrol parlance, as 'OTMs.'"

11. Susan Carroll and Daniel Gonzalez, "Border control initiative runs into troubles" Tucson Citizen (June 3, 2004).

When Department of Homeland Security officials launched the Arizona Border Control Initiative in March, they said the agency planned to add 260 agents, four helicopters and two unmanned aerial drones, and expand detention space to hold illegal immigrants.

The effort was supposed to be in full swing by Tuesday. But more than half of the promised U.S. Border Patrol agents have not arrived, officials have scrapped plans to add tents for detained immigrants [illegal aliens], and the drones remain on the ground...

Hutchinson said arrests of illegal immigrants in the state have increased to 3,000 daily from an average of about 2,000 a day since March.

12. The new policy of sitting on X's - ordering Border Patrol agents to stay in a fixed location for an entire shift - has been reported by CNN's Lou Dobbs. Forward deployment has never worked, but is a method producing statistics showing that apprehensions are down. As a former Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Terry McCann stated in private correspondence:

"It's all bullshit and politics. The number of people entering is massive, but by ordering Border Patrol agents to sit on predetermined sites all day and all night, there is visible presence, and arrests go down. Of course, the flood tide of illegal aliens 'flank' those positions right and left and with no one guarding the rear, the invasion is hardly slowed."

13. "Overstay Tracking: A Key Component of Homeland Security and a Layered Defense," Report to the Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives United States General Accounting Office, General Accounting Office, report GAO-04-82 (May, 2004).

14. Former Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Terry McCann stated in private correspondence:

"As the Chinese did during the last century, Mexicans have decided to stay. You are correct in your assessment that they send for their families. With regard to Border Patrol checkpoints, aliens simply walk around them and are later picked up by alien smugglers. Man power provided, the Patrol will position personnel to apprehend 'walk around' aliens.

Non immigrants aliens, after having been admitted as a temporary agricultural workers, may seek employment in better paying jobs and thereby void the terms of their admissions. With such monetary gain why should they return to countries of their birth? Their intended destination may be another municipality to reside and work near their families.

The United States continues to make history; however, as per aliens illegally entering the United States, we are facing an onslaught far worse than that experienced by the ancient Roman Empire."

15. Michael Maiello and Susan Kitchens, "Preying On Human Cargo," Forbes (June 7, 2004). (Read the complete article).

16. Juan Mann, "It's Official! Bush Betrayal Triggered Wave of Illegals" (VDARE.com, June 14, 2004).

The U.S. Border Patrol made 135,468 apprehensions along the southwest border during April 2004, an 80 percent increase when compared to April 2003.

17. Timothy Egan, "Border Desert Proves Deadly For Mexicans," New York Times (May 23, 2004).

After a four year drop, apprehensions which the Border Patrol uses to measure human smuggling are up 30 per cent over last year along the entire southern border, with 660,000 people detained from Oct. 1, 2003 through the end of April, 2004

18. "Feds Undercount Illegal Aliens" (NewsMax.com, March 16, 2001).

Northeastern University researchers Andrew Sum, Neeta Fogg and Paul Harrington have been researching for some time another anomaly. From 1994 to 2000, U.S. businesses reported creating 5.2 million more jobs than U.S. workers had been reporting obtaining. They believe this discrepancy largely stems from illegal aliens who wish to avoid coming to the government's attention. This would suggest that the annual increase in illegal aliens is between 500,000 and 1 million. That would be about the same as the net number of legal immigrants each year...

The new estimates of illegal immigration have important implications for long-term population growth. Last year, the Census Bureau estimated that America's population would grow to 571 million in 2100, with the number of Hispanics growing to 190 million. But these figures may now have to be looked at again...

19. "Estimate of Illegal Immigrant Population Rises" (National Center for Policy Analysis, October 25, 2001).

...the INS estimates that several hundred thousand illegals return home each year or receive legal status as part of the normal "legal" immigration process

20. D.A. King, "Could There Be Twenty Million Illegals In The U.S.?" (VDARE.com, August 7, 2004).

21. 2003 and 2004 "World population Data Sheet," (Population Reference Bureau, 2003, 2004).

 

Population Reference Bureau
World Population Data Sheets (extracts)
Mexico data
Mid-year Population (millions) Total Fertility Rate Rate of Natural Increase (%) Births per 1,000 Deaths per 1,000
2004 106.2 2.8* 2.1% 25 5
2003 104.9 2.8* 2.4% 29 5
Calculations using the above data:
Mid-year Population (millions) Total Fertility Rate Rate of Natural Increase (millions) Births minus Deaths (millions)
2004 106.2   2.2 2.1
2003 104.9   2.5 2.5
Yearly increase 1.3**      

 

Definitions:

Rate of Natural Increase (RNI): "The birth rate minus the death rate, implying the annual rate of population growth without regard for migration. Expressed as a percentage."

Total Fertility Rate (TFR): "The average number of children a woman would have assuming that current age-specific birth rates remain constant throughout her childbearing years (usually considered to be ages 15 to 49)".

The following statements from Carl Haub, author of the Population Reference Bureau World Population Data Sheets, were made on September 22, 2004 to Fred Elbel via telephone discussion. They are reprinted with permission:

** "You can't generally compare years between the Data Sheets. We recalculate the sheets each year. Thus, it is possible that they could show population declining in a country where it is known to be increasing."

* "Mexico is a really thorny problem. It is a really bad problem - we don't really know their Total Fertility Rate. It's somewhere between 2.5 and 3. Mexico has three agencies, chartered with different objectives (including reducing fertility) who report different rates... The (Mexican) Census was also a bit of a problem. They actually lied about the 1980 population."

PRB uses the 2000 Mexican Census, projected to 2004 and including a net migration rate of -4.0 per 1,000. They estimate Mexico's natural increase at 2.2 million.
 
Regarding the September 20, 2004 TIME Magazine article22 , "I can't buy 3 million per year emigrating in total or from Mexico, especially on a net basis. In 10 years, that would be 30 million people. It must have been supplied by an anti-immigrant [anti-immigration] group".

The U.S. Census does serious work on migration. They calculated Mexican migration at -4.2 per 1,000. You can find that on their website - it is very complete. Go to www.census.gov. Then select "I" from the "A-Z" selection. Then go to International and then to International database. View quick summary or detailed summary.

22. Laura Karmatz and Joan Levinstein, "Who Left the Door Open?," TIME Magazine (September 20, 2004).

The article states that 3 million illegal aliens each year enter into the United States. When questioned about this number, journalists Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele replied in the October 25, 2004 issue:

Although the figure of 3 million illegal aliens is an estimate, it is based on government formulas and interviews with border-patrol agents and other law-enforcement authorities. Anderson's reference [in a letter to TIME] to 350,000 illegals comes from Census Bureau data, which are widely acknowledged to be seriously flawed.

23. Population - Mexico, Guide2Mexico.

24. Steven A. Camarota, "5 Million Illegal Immigrants: An Analysis of New INS Numbers," Immigration Review #28 (Center for Immigration Studies, Spring 1997);

On February 7, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) released its latest estimate for the size and growth of the illegal alien population in the United States, updating its 1994 report...

There were 170,000 new overstayers each year between 1982-1992 and 181,000 between 1992-1996. The number of new illegals who joined the illegal population by Entering Without Inspection (EWI) was 250,000 from 1982 to 1988 and 242,000 from 1988 to 1996.

The INS estimates that 41 percent of the illegal population are overstayers and 59 percent are EWIs. This is a change from the estimated 50-50 split in its previous study.

The illegal population is 54 percent Mexican.

25. "INS: 7 million illegal immigrants in United States - Mexicans make up nearly 70 percent of total, figures show," (CNN News, February 1, 2003).

26. John Price, "Tendencias - Latin America Market Report," Info Americas newsletter (June 2001).

The unprecedented growth of legal and illegal immigration to the US in the 1990s was dominated by flows from Latin America, which were the source of more than 70 percent of new legal immigrants and 90 percent of illegals. Mexico and Central America were the most important source countries.

27. "Overstay Tracking Is a Key Component of a Layered Defense," Government Accounting [Accountability] Office (October 16, 2003).

Significant numbers of foreign visitors overstay their authorized periods of admission. The Department of Homeland Security estimates the resident overstay population at 2.3 million as of January 2000. Because the starting point for this estimate is the 2000 census, it does not cover short-term overstays who have not established residence here. It also omits an unknown number of potential long-term overstays from Mexico and Canada.

A recent DHS estimate put the January 2000 resident overstay population at 1/3 of 7 million illegal immigrants, or 2.3 million.

28. "2000 Census Shows that Illegal Alien Population Much Larger than Estimated by INS," (Federation for American Immigration Reform, February 6, 2001).

According to data from the 2000 Census, the size of the illegal alien population in the United States may be millions more than the estimates of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) have acknowledged...

"The size and scope of the illegal immigrant problem in the United States is a national scandal in more ways than one," said Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American immigration Reform. "The Northeastern study18 places the figure at nearly double any previous estimate of the size of the illegal population, indicating gross incompetence on the part of the government agencies charged with enforcing immigration laws. Equally as serious, if the Northeastern study proves to be accurate, it indicates a deliberate cover-up on the part of the government. It is inconceivable that official estimates could be that far off the mark unless someone was deliberately trying to mislead the American public," charged Stein.

29. "U.S. Amnesties for Illegal Aliens" (www.NumbersUSA.com).

Census 2000 results indicate that 700,000 to 800,000 illegal aliens settle in the U.S. each year, with an estimated 8-11 million illegal aliens currently living in the United States.

According to INS estimates released in October, 2000, the amnesties granted in 1986 as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act significantly contributed to an increase in illegal immigration as the relatives of newly legalized illegal immigrants came illegally to the United States to join their family members.

Congress has passed 7 amnesties for illegal aliens, starting in 1986.

  1. Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA) Amnesty, 1986: A blanket amnesty for some 2.7 million illegal aliens
  2. Section 245(i) Amnesty, 1994: A temporary rolling amnesty for 578,000 illegal aliens
  3. Section 245(i) Extension Amnesty, 1997: An extension of the rolling amnesty created in 1994
  4. Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) Amnesty, 1997: An amnesty for close to one million illegal aliens from Central America
  5. Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act Amnesty (HRIFA), 1998: An amnesty for 125,000 illegal aliens from Haiti
  6. Late Amnesty, 2000: An amnesty for some illegal aliens who claim they should have been amnestied under the 1986 IRCA amnesty, an estimated 400,000 illegal aliens
  7. LIFE Act Amnesty, 2000: A reinstatement of the rolling Section 245(i) amnesty, an estimated 900,000 illegal aliens

30. "Social Security 'Totalization' - Examining a Lopsided Agreement with Mexico," (Center for Immigration Studies, September 2004).

Tidal wave of Mexican immigration. 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.

While perhaps embarrassed that 10 percent of it people have fled Mexico to earn a decent living, President Vicente Fox’s administration has embraced this reality. In fact, increasing the number of Mexicans working in the United States is among its highest foreign policy objectives.

31. Ben Winograd, "Crossing the Border, again and again and again," Tucson Citizen (November 5, 2004).

"By comparing the totals of individuals to apprehensions, the figures show that the percentage of illegal immigrants who are caught more than once has risen in the past three years. In the Tucson sector during fiscal 2002, roughly 1 in 4 apprehensions was an immigrant arrested earlier in the year. By 2004, the number had grown to 1 in 3.… Despite the recent rise in recidivism, repeat crossers were more common five years ago."

32. Charlie LeDuff, "Holidays Inspire a Rush to the Border," New York Times (December 23, 2004).

33. Telephone conversation between Richard Humphries and Michael Nicley, Chief, Tucson Sector, U.S. Border Patrol (August/September, 2004).

Humphries: "Chief Nicley, your agents in the Tucson Sector are arresting more than 1,000 illegals every 24 hours and you and I both know that, for every one they apprehend, at least 3 get away". Nicley: "It's more like 7, Mr. Humphries".

34. Email from retired Border Patrol Special Agent John Slagle (May 30, 2005):

"The average age we've seen and reported since 2002 in the Three Points Area [Arizona] has been late teens to late twenties, mostly males."

35. Robert Justich and Betty Ng, CFA, "The Underground Labor Force Is Rising To The Surface", Bear Stearns (January 3, 2005):

"Though we cannot conduct an independent census of the United States population, as investors, we need not accept the accuracy of the official census immigration statistics, which are widely recognized as incomplete. There are many ancillary sources of data that provide evidence that the rate of growth in the immigrant population is much greater than the Census Bureau statistics. School enrollments, foreign remittances, border crossings, and housing permits are some of the statistics that point to a far greater rate of change in the immigrant population than the census numbers. At the risk of appearing dogmatic or taking a leap of faith, we have applied the rate of growth from these other areas and have drawn several conclusions about the current immigration population:

1. The number of illegal immigrants in the United States may be as high as 20 million people, more than double the official 9 million people estimated by the Census Bureau.
 
2. The total number of legalized immigrants entering The United States since 1990 has averaged 962,000 per year. Several credible studies indicate that the number of illegal entries has recently crept up to 3 million per year, triple the authorized figure.

3. Undocumented immigrants are gaining a larger share of the job market, and hold approximately 12 to 15 million jobs in the United States (8% of the employed)..."

36. U.S. Border Patrol Local 2544 (covering most of Arizona) stated on their website at www.local2544.org in July of 2005:

"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)."

37. "A Line in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border" (U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Investigations, November, 2006)

"During 2005, Border Patrol apprehended approximately 1.2 million illegal aliens; of those 165,000 were from countries other than Mexico. Of the non-Mexican aliens, approximately 650 were from special interest countries."

"A significant portion of illegal activity at the border relates to illegal drug smuggling. Below is a summary of FY 2005 Federal drug seizures, which shows a total of 1,129, 275 pounds of cocaine and 6,866,465 million pounds of marijuana."

"Federal law enforcement estimates that 10 percent to 30 percent of illegal aliens are actually apprehended and 10 percent to 20 percent of drugs are seized.2 Therefore, in 2005, as many as 4 to 10 million illegal aliens crossed into the United States; and as much as 5.6 to 11.2 million pounds of cocaine and 34.3 to 68.6 million pounds of marijuana entered the United States."

"The number of aliens other than Mexican ("OTMs") illegally crossing the border has grown at an alarming rate over the past several years. Based on U.S. Border Patrol statistics there were 30,147 OTMs apprehended in FY2003, 44,614 in FY2004, 165,178 in FY2005, and 108,025 in FY2006. Most of them were apprehended along the U.S. Southwest border."

38. The Myth Of The 11 Million: Wall Street Analyst Estimates 21-25 Million Illegals Now In U.S., Nicholas Styx, VDare, November 24, 2014.

39. You Only Think You Know How Many Illegal Immigrants Live in the US, William Campenni, The Daily Signal, December 27, 2015.

...Though now dated, these numbers implied many more illegal immigrants in 2005 than were acknowledged by Pew and the Center for Immigration Studies.

Why, then, has the 11 million figure become so sacrosanct?

Well, professional and institutional reputations are invested heavily in the number, perhaps because with its longevity the public has become comfortable or apathetic. Were it 20 million or more–a larger population than New York state–Americans might be getting really angry.

Imagine the reaction if the media reported daily that this 20 million cohort, supplemented by chain migration and family reunification mandates, would swell to 40 million or 50 million in a decade...

The Heritage Foundation has suggested that if given amnesty, 11 million illegal immigrants would cost taxpayers $6 trillion or more over the immigrants’ lifetimes.

While not exactly linear, those costs would double or more should the real count be in the range of 20 million to 30 million. That money could buy a lot of high schools, highways and health care for Americans...

Let’s question that 11 million. It’s not Scripture. It’s a guess.