Analysis: 1.1 Million More Illegal Aliens in U.S. Since Biden Took Office

Border Illegal Aliens
Guillermo Arias, Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The population of illegal immigrants in the United States has jumped by 1.1 million in President Joe Biden’s first year, says a report released Tuesday by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

CIS said in an announcement distributed to the press that the data from the Department of Homeland Security is from 2018, so it used the federal government’s “household survey” to get more current information about the number of illegal aliens inside the country.

Data from the survey showed the illegal alien population was 11.4 million in January of 2022. The center’s preliminary population estimate for February 2022 is 11.5 million.

“The number of illegal immigrants grew dramatically this past year as the result of Biden administration policies which released most of the people encountered at the border and stopped most interior enforcement,” Steven Camarota, the Center’s director of research and the report’s lead author, said.

“Absent a change in policy it seems certain the illegal immigrant population will continue to grow rapidly,” Camarota said.

The Center describes its work, in part: 

The estimated size and growth of the illegal immigrant population are important because, unlike border apprehension figures, the number of illegal immigrants living in the country is what ultimately determines their impact. The [Current Population Survey] also shows that the total foreign-born population (legal and illegal together), reached 46.7 million in February 2022, a new record high, and an increase of 1.7 million since January 2021.

The Department of Homeland Security, whose methodology we base our analysis on, has illegal estimates only through January 2018. Part of the reason for this is that they, like other researchers, rely on the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey (ACS) to generate their estimates of illegal immigrants. The ACS is a larger survey than the CPS, producing more statistically robust estimates; however, it is only released once a year many months after the data is collected. Moreover, the Census Bureau reports the 2020 ACS was not accurate due to the pandemic. Using the monthly CPS allows us to produce timely estimates that reflect current conditions.

Other findings of the analysis include:

• Illegal immigrants account for more than one million or about two-thirds of the increase in the total foreign born since January of 2021.

• To place the 1.7 million growth in the total foreign-born population (legal and illegal) in the last 13 months in perspective, in the 48 months of the Trump presidency (January of 2017 to December 2020) the total foreign born increased 1.5 million.

• For the illegal immigrant population or the foreign-born population in general to grow, new arrivals must exceed emigration and deaths. Births to the foreign born, legal or illegal, in the U.S. do not add to the illegal immigrant population or the overall foreign-born — all children born in the U.S. are by definition native-born.

The statistical margin of error for the illegal immigrant estimates in 2022 is plus or minus 270,000 with a 90 percent confidence level.

“However, as with any estimate of illegal immigrants there is also non-statistical error in our numbers,” CIS stated.

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