Empowering "We the People"

National Data

National Data


Summary Demographic National Data (and Source)
Population (2008 CB est.): 304,059,724
Population (2000 Census): 281,421,906
Foreign-Born Population (2008 FAIR est.): 38,110,000
Foreign-Born Population (2000 Census): 31,107,573
Share Foreign Born (2008 FAIR est.) 12.5%
Share Foreign-Born (2000 Census) 11.1%
Immigrant Stock (2000 CB est.): 55,890,000
Share Immigrant Stock (2000 est.): 20.4%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2000 Census): 12,542,626
Share Naturalized (2000): 40.3%
Immigrant Admissions (DHS 1997-2006): 9,105,162
Illegal Alien Population (2008 FAIR est.): 13,010,000
Projected Population – 2025 (2006 FAIR): 364,237,000

Immigration is a National Issue

Americans now realize that the costs of our present high level of immigration (legal and illegal) are enormous and growing. (The Center for Immigration Studies estimated in 1995 that immigration costs us a net $29 billion a year. That was more than the combined budgets of the Departments of State, Justice and Interior.) Those costs include areas such as education, health care, and welfare programs used by immigrants. That estimate would be much higher today, because the wave of illegal immigration has continued unchecked, and legal immigrant admission has continued to grow to an historically high level.

Much of the news coverage of immigration used to focus on the six states with the highest immigration levels: California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Illinois. But the growth of immigration has been accompanied by its spread to communities across the country. Illegal immigration has become such a public issue that local officials are increasingly grappling with in the absence of effective laws and effective federal enforcement.

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We pay for immigration through federal taxes

Much of the cost for immigration is paid by the states and municipalities, but a lot is paid for by the federal government too. Illegal immigrants receive taxpayer support for their U.S.-born children, immunizations, subsidized public health and other programs. Legal immigrants are eligible for almost all federal programs with the exception of welfare, which generally is not available for the first five years in the country. In many areas, such as education, the federal government gives matching grants for state expenditures, which means paying twice for those costs of immigration. When states hand a bill to the federal government for the costs of immigration (as is provided for by law in the case of incarceration of illegal immigrants, emergency medical expenditures, or welfare programs for the illegal aliens who were given amnesty in 1986), it is you who will pay regardless of where you live.

The United States is a vast country; it is easy to be deceived into thinking that what goes on in other states does not affect us. But, directly or indirectly, the impact of mass immigration on our country hits us all and hits us hard. For that reason, all Americans should demand that their elected representatives reduce the price they are paying for immigration. The best way to cut those costs is deter illegal immigration and to reduce immigration itself back towards a more moderate level.

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National population

The Census Bureau’s estimate of the U.S. population in mid-2008 was 304,059,724 residents. This represents an annual average population increase of about 3.1 million residents per year since the 2000 Census, i.e. an increase of about one percent per year.

Between 1990 and 2000 the U.S. population increased by 13.1 percent (from 248,909,873 to 281,421,906). This was 1.4 million more people than were expected, which Census Bureau officials said resulted in part from a better job in counting illegal aliens than in the past. Because of the better count in 2000, the ten-year increase in population averaged a 3.25 million resident increase each year.

The population increase in the 1990s was due to a 57.4 percent increase in the foreign-born population and a 9.2 percent increase in the native-born population (including children born to the immigrants). The average population increase over that decade was 2.24 million per year. Overall, the increase in the immigrant population directly accounted for more than one-third (35%) of the nation’s rise in population. The population growth during the 1990s was much larger than during the 1980s: during that decade, the U.S. population increased by 9.9 percent (from 226,542,203 to 248,909,873 residents).

United States Population 1900-2008 

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Foreign-born population

FAIR estimates that the foreign-born population was about 38,110,000 residents in July 2008. This meant a foreign-born population share of 12.5 percent. The amount of change since the 2000 Census indicates an average annual rate of increase in the foreign-born population of more than 875,000 people, which is more than 28 percent of the nation’s annual average population increase. Immigration also contributes to population growth through the children born to immigrants in this country. Nationally the share of births to the foreign-born is about double their share of the population. That share of the nation’s current births is enough to account for more than one million births a year. Combining the increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may be adding about seven-tenths the nation’s annual increase in population.

The Census Bureau estimate of the U.S. foreign-born population in 2007, based on the new American Community Survey, was 37,234,695 residents. The ACS is a large-scale, continuous sampling process designed to replace the need for a long-form in the 2010 Census. However, because the ACS does not have the same follow-up procedures as the Census to include non-respondents, the ACS likely underestimates the foreign-born population.

United States Foreign-Born Population 1900-2008

The more than 50 percent surge in the immigrant population was much higher than the 9.3 percent increase in the native-born population. This is why the foreign-born population share increased from 9.7 percent to 11.1 percent.

The 2000 Census recorded that 13,178,276 of the country’s foreign-born residents had entered the country during the previous ten years – an average of 1.3 million increase per year. This constituted 42.4 percent of the foreign-born poulation.

The 2000 Census recorded that 13,178,276 of the country’s foreign-born residents had entered the country during the previous ten years – an average of 1.3 million immigrants per year. This constituted 42.4 percent of the foreign-born population.

Speakers at Home of Foreign Languages
Spanish 28,100,725
French 1,606,790
Chinese 1,499,635
German 1,382,615
Tagalog 1,224,240
Vietnamese 1,009,625
Italian 1,008,370
Korean 894,065
Russian 706,240
Polish 667,415
Arabic 614,580
Portuguese 563,835
(Source: Census Bureau report: Language Spoken at Home for the Population 5 Years and Over, April 2004)

An indicator of the change the country is experiencing as a result of mass immigration may be seen in 2000 Census data on language spoken at home. The data show that the share of non-English speakers at home increased from 13.8 percent in the 1990 Census to 17.6 percent. Among the non-English speakers at home, those who spoke Spanish rose from 54.5 percent in 1990 to 59.6 percent in 2000. Less than half (45.4%) of those who said they spoke a language other than English at home in 2000 also said they spoke English less than very well.

Foreign-Born Change Since 1980:
Top Ten Countries 1980-2000 (in thousands)
Rank Country 1980     Country 1990     Country 2000
1 Mexico 2,199     Mexico 4,298     Mexico 9,177
2 Germany 849   Philip. 913   China * 1,519
3 Canada 843   Canada 745   Philip. 1,369
4 Italy 832   Cuba 737   India 1,023
5 U.K. 669   Germany 712   Vietnam 988
6 Cuba 608   U.K. 640   Cuba 873
7 Philip. 501   Italy 581   Korea 864
8 Poland 418   Korea 568   Canada 821
9 Sov.Un. 406   Vietnam 543   El Sal. 817
10 Korea 290   China 530   Germany 707
11 China 286   El Sal. 465   Dom.Rep. 688
12 Vietnam 231   India 450   U.K. 678
  All Others 5,949   All Other 8,585   All Others 12,238
  Total 14,080   Total 19,767   Total 31,108
* China includes Hong Kong and Taiwan; Data for Soviet Union include Russia, Ukraine & Belarus.

The twelve countries above constituted three-fifths (60.7%) of the foreign-born population in 2000. Mexico alone accounted for nearly three-fifths (29.5%) of the foreign-born total. Compared to the 4.44 million Mexican-born residents from the 2000 Census who said they arrived in the United States during the 1990s, INS data indicate that the total number of legal Mexican immigrants legally admitted for permanent residence during that period numbered about 1,13 million persons.

Findings by the Center for Immigration Studies from the Census Bureau’s 2000 Current Population Survey (CPS) were:

  • 17.6 percent of all children four-years old and younger were born to immigrant mothers. A comparable share (16.3%) of older children was also born to immigrant mothers.
  • 40.1 percent of immigrants aged 18 and older have become U.S. citizens.
  • 44 percent of immigrants and their children are in poverty or near poverty (compared to 27.8% of native-born residents).
  • 30.9 percent of immigrants and their children do not have health insurance (compared with 13% of native born residents).
  • 19.7 percent of immigrant-headed households receive welfare — despite the fact that illegal immigrants are ineligible for welfare — (compared with 13.3% of native-born households).

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Distribution of the foreign born increase

Eleven states had increases of more than 400,000 foreign-born residents between 1970 and 2000. Four of them had increases of more than one million residents, i.e., California, Florida, New York, and Texas. Besides those four states and the other traditional immigrant-settlement states of New Jersey and Illinois, the other newly emergent immigrant high-impact states were Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington.

U.S. Foreign Born Map1

Twelve states had increases of more than 510 percent in their foreign-born populations between 1970 and 2000. Three had more than a ten-fold increase: Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina. Only Texas among traditional immigrant settlement states was one of these top-12 states. The others in this category were Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

U.S. Foreign Born Map2

There were five states that were among those with both the highest rate of change in foreign-born population as well as the highest number of additional foreign-born residents

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The immigrant stock

According to a 2000 report of the Census Bureau, there were about 55.9 million people in the United States who were “immigrant stock. That is a term that refers to immigrants and their children born here after their arrival. As a national average, that meant that more than one in five U.S. residents (20.4%) was immigrant stock in 2000. The size of the Census Bureau’s estimate of the immigrant stock for each state is shown in the table below.

There are about 10 to 11 million children under the age 18 who are children of immigrants. This information is derived from the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study the largest research project on the topic in the country. (Source: The Houston Chronicle, October 3, 1999)

As the graph below shows, the amount and share of the U.S. population change due to the increase in the foreign stock is rising rapidly. Over the past 34 years the new immigrants and children born to them have added about 45,857,200 people to the population. Over this period, the increase in the foreign stock has accounted for 50.7 percent of the country’s population increase. Since 2000, the increase in the post-1970 foreign stock has been responsible for about 62 percent of the overall population increase.

The increase in the immigrant stock was responsible for all of the population increase since 1970 in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. It accounted for more than three-fourths of the population increase in California, Iowa, and North Dakota. Three other states had more than half of their population increase since 1970 accounted for by the increase in the immigrant stock: Hawaii, Michigan and Ohio.

U.S. Foreign Stock

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Net International Migration (NIM)

Using the Current Population Survey (a smaller sample than the ACS) the Census Bureau estimated that between the 2000 Census and July 2008 the country’s population increased by 8,114,516 from Net International Migration. That was an annual average increase of 977,653 (or 35.8%) of the total increase. The remainder was due to a greater number of births than deaths.

population change sources 1990-1999


United States Sources of Population Change 2000-08


[Note that these population changes record the children born in United States to immigrants (part of the immigrant stock) as part of the natural change rather than a part of the immigration flow.]

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Data from the 2000 Census recorded the U.S. naturalized population at 12,542,626. That was a naturalization rate of 40.3 percent.

naturalization data

Data from the 1990 Census showed that 7,966,998 (40%) of the U.S’s foreign-born residents (19,767,316) had become naturalized U.S. citizens.

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INS data on immigrant settlement

New immigration adds well over one-million persons each year when the stream of illegal entrants and visa overstayers is added to legal admissions. The data below describe the legal admissions.

Immigrant settlement in the United States has risen since the adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. The recent rate of new immigrants has about tripled from the rate of the late 1960s. The chart below shows the INS immigrant admissions data since 1965 and the cumulative amount of those immigrant admissions (28.95 million immigrants as of 2006). The number of annual admissions has ranged from 296,697 in FY’65 to 1,827,167 in FY’91. The higher level of admissions from FY’89-’91 was due the inclusion of illegal immigrants who were given legal status as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) amnesty enacted in 1986.


Each year the government releases annual data on the number of new immigrants. Some are newly arrived from abroad and others may already be in the United States in another status before being granted immigrant status. The table below furnishes data on the immigrants who have been admitted for residence in the United State since fiscal year 1997 by nationality.

1997 797,847
1998 653,206
1999 644,787
2000 841,002
2001 1,058,902
2002 1,059,356
2003 703,542
2004 957,883
2005 1,122,373
2006 1,266,264

The admissions data show that for the past five years (since 2002) the average number of immigrant admissions has been 1,022,759 persons.

The table below shows INS immigrant admissions for nationals of the countries with the largest number of immigrants admitted or adjusted to legal residence each year since 1996. The Department of Homeland Security website has detailed data on immigrant admissions since FY’03 by year and by country. (See

View Immigrant Admissions by Fiscal Year 

A dash (-) indicates that the data for that year was not published for that country in the Immigration Statistical Yearbook.  * China includes Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Soviet Union includes Russia and former parts of the USSR. Yugoslavia includes Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro-Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The data for FY’95, and FY’97-’99 and FY’03 were artificially low because the INS did not issue green cards to all the applicants for adjustment of status who were already in the United States. In those five years, new immigration could have registered as much as 30 percent higher, if the INS had issued more visas. The INS began to catch up with its backlog of adjustment to legal residence in FY’01.

The 31 nationalities above represent more than four-fifths (82%) of all immigrant settlement and adjustment during this ten-year period. Nearly one-fifth (18.8%) of total admissions were accounted for by immigrants from Mexico. With immigrants admitted from China, Philippines, India,the former Soviet Union and Mexico, these constitute more than two-fifths (42%) of all new admissions.

State Summary Data 2000 Census

(in thousands)

  Foreign-Born Immigrant Stock  
  Pop. Pop. % Pop. % New
Alabama 4,447 88 2% 136 3.1% 19 24
Alaska 627 37 5.9% 83 13.2% 12 5
Arizona 5,131 656 12.8% 1,321 25.7% 105 283
Arkansas 2,673 74 2.8% 124 4.6% 15 27
California 33,872 8,864 26.2% 15,896 46.9% 2,163 2,209
Colorado 4,301 370 8.6% 753 17.5% 84 144
Connecticut 3,406 370 10.9% 806 23.7% 101 39
Delaware 784 45 5.7% 71 9.1% 13 10
D.C. 572 74 12.9% 98 17.1% 30 7
Florida 15,982 2,671 16.7% 4,637 29.0% 755 337
Georgia 8,187 577 7.1% 541 6.6% 133 228
Hawaii 1,212 212 17.5% 433 35.7% 67 2
Idaho 1,294 64 5.0% 166 12.8% 18 19
Illinois 12,419 1,529 12.3% 2,477 19.9% 505 432
Indiana 6,081 187 3.1% 370 6.1% 45 45
Iowa 2,926 91 3.1% 275 9.4% 30 24
Kansas 2,688 135 5.0% 308 11.5% 35 47
Kentucky 4,042 80 2.0% 180 4.5% 26 15
Louisiana 4,469 116 2.6% 215 4.8% 32 5
Maine 1,275 37 2.9% 139 10.9% 9
Maryland 5,297 518 9.8% 861 16.3% 182 56
Massachusetts 6,349 773 12.2% 1,708 26.9% 224 87
Michigan 9,938 524 5.3% 1,298 13.1% 161 70
Minnesota 4,920 260 5.3% 500 10.2% 86 60
Mississippi 2,845 40 1.4% 61 2.1% 10 8
Missouri 5,595 151 2.7% 335 6.0% 53 22
Montana 902 16 1.8% 64 7.1% 4
Nebraska 1,711 75 4.4% 156 9.1% 22 24
Nevada 1,998 317 15.8% 576 28.8% 66 101
New Hampshire 1,236 54 4.4% 174 14.1% 16
New Jersey 8,414 1,476 17.5% 2,360 28.0% 465 221
New Mexico 1,819 150 8.2% 277 15.2% 35 39
New York 18,977 3,868 20.4% 6,759 35.6% 1,230 489
North Carolina 8,049 430 5.3% 577 7.2% 80 206
North Dakota 642 12 1.9% 52 8.1% 5
Ohio 11,353 339 3.0% 953 8.4% 99 40
Oklahoma 3,451 132 3.8% 258 7.5% 32 46
Oregon 3,421 290 8.5% 615 18.0% 76 90
Pennsylvania 12,281 508 4.1% 1,175 9.6% 164 49
Rhode Island 1,048 119 11.4% 252 24.0% 27 16
South Carolina 4,012 115 2.9% 131 3.3% 23 36
South Dakota 755 13 1.8% 43 5.7% 5
Tennessee 5,689 159 2.8% 232 4.1% 42 46
Texas 20,852 2,900 13.9% 4,801 23.0% 647 1,041
Utah 2,233 159 7.1% 222 9.9% 37 65
Vermont 609 23 3.8% 71 11.7% 7
Virginia 7,079 570 8.1% 859 12.1% 192 103
Washington 5,894 614 10.4% 950 16.1% 186 136
West Virginia 1,808 19 1.1% 47 2.6% 6
Wisconsin 5,364 194 3.6% 467 8.7% 49 41
Wyoming 394 11 2.3% 29 5.9% 3
TOTAL 281,422 31,108 11.1% 55,892 19.9% 8,356 7,000


For more recent data and estimates, click on one of the above states

For our current estimate of the illegal alien population for each state, go to How Many Illegal Aliens?”

For information on the impact of immigration on a state, see the Immigration in Your Backyard section.

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Refugee and asylee admissions

The nation has admitted nearly 762,400 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years (FY’97-’06) for permanent resettlement. In addition, asylum admissions that were capped at 10,000 per year have become uncapped and added an additional 216,800 admissions over this period. This is an average of nearly 98,000 refugees and asylees per year.



Unlike immigrants, who normally are sponsored by relatives or employers, refugees (including asylees) end up sponsored by the American public. Taxpayer-supported programs include English and job training, housing, Supplemental Security Income assistance and other programs. For example, under the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (HHS) assistance funding for FY’02, $71,900,000 was available for refugee employment training and other services programs based on a three-year refugee settlement program covering 284,646 refugees. This allocation did not include a larger share (55%) of funding programs for communities heavily affected by Cuban and Haitian entrants ($19 million), communities with refugees whose cultural differences made assimilation especially difficult ($26 million), communities impacted by federal welfare reform changes ($14 million), educational support to schools with significant refugee students ($15 million), and discretionary grants ($12.7 million). The FY’02 total of all these programs was $158.6 million (an average of $557 per refugee).

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Limited English proficiency/English language learning students

Despite a slight national decline in overall K-12 enrollment, the number of students enrolled in Limited English Proficiency (LEP) classes continues to rapidly climb. These students are virtually all immigrants, and a lion’s share is likely illegally in the country. Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education from the states indicate that overall public school enrollment decreased by one percent from the 1995-97 three-year period to the 2003-05 three year period. Over the same time frame, enrollment in LEP classes increased by 38 percent.

Data on enrollment in LEP/ELL programs is collected by the federal government from school systems that receive Title VII funds for these special instruction programs. LEP enrollment has increased across the country, but like the distribution of legal and illegal immigrants, the greatest concentration continues to be in the states that have been traditional portals for immigrants: California (36.5% of the nation’s total LEP enrollment), Texas (15.1%), Florida (6.7%), New York (5.3%) and Illinois (4.0%). Catching up with these states is Arizona, which accounted over the 2003-05 period for 3.4 percent of the nation’s total LEP enrollment.

In this most recent data, the top five states accounted for more than two thirds (67.6%) of the national total enrollment. This continues a downward trend in the share but not the number – of limited English-speaking immigrant children in these states and an increasing share in other states. The average enrollment share in the five states over the 1995-97 school years was a higher 73.4 percent, and the Arizona enrollment share was lower (2.8%). For the 1991-92 school year the same five states accounted for 75 percent of all of the LEP students.

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Foreign students

The 2008/09 “Open Doors” report of the Institute of International Education (IEE) shows the number of international students enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States increased by 8% from the previous year to a total of 671,616 students. The share of total enrollment in two-year through post-graduate education constituted 3.9 percent of total enrollment in 2006-07. To put this into perspective, until 1979-80 international student enrollment was never higher than 1.7 percent of overall enrollment. Then it jumped in that year to 2.4 percent and then continued to slowly climb until it hit 3.1 percent in 1996-97. Foreign student enrollment then jumped again to 3.6 percent the following year and has continued to climb. The highest enrollment share by foreign students was 4.6 percent in the 2002-03 school year, but enrollment growth fell off following the September 11, 2001 attacks, and has begun to climb again. Even after the 9/11 attacks and the greater security screening of foreign students, and the elimination of visas to fraudulent U.S. educational institutions, enrollment never fell to pre-9/11 levels.

Users of the IIE data should keep in mind that the foreign students reported by IIE understates the actual total because of missing data from some schools, and it only includes students on visas and, therefore, does not include foreign students in the country illegally or with other than student visas. The chart below shows the sharp increase in foreign students attending school in the United States from 1960-2009.

US Foreign Student Enrollment 1960-2009

The countries with the largest numbers of foreign students in 2008-09 were India (103,260), China-PRC (98,510), Korea (75,065), Canada (29,697), Japan (29,264), Taiwan (28,065), Mexico (14,850), Turkey (13,263), Vietnam (12,823), and Saudi Arabia (12,661). These 10 countries accounted for 62.2 percent of the total foreign student enrollment.

The states that hosted the largest share of the international students in 2008-09 were California (93,124), New York (74,934), Texas (58,188), Massachusetts (33,838), Florida (30,386), Illinois (29,887), Pennsylvania (27,529), Michigan (23,617), Ohio (20,725), and Indiana (17,098). These 10 states accounted for 60.9 percent of the total foreign student enrollment.

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Population projection

The chart below is based on a projection of U.S. population growth through the year 2050. The projection was done by the Census Bureau in 1996 with different assumptions (scenarios). The two scenarios depicted in the chart are for zero-net immigration and the “middle series,” i.e., most likely based on the current demographic trend, including immigration.

population projection 2000-2050

The net zero-scenario assumes the number of new immigrants coming into the country balances those who leave or die. The difference of about 80 million people between the two scenarios depicts the impact of post-1990 immigrants and their offspring on the size of U.S. population. It shows how today’s and tomorrow’s immigrants and their offspring are likely to account for over 60 percent of the nation’s population growth over the next half century if nothing is done to change current policies.

The Census Bureau’s “high” immigration projection assumed annual net immigration of 1,370,000 persons. The projected population in 2025 is more than six percent higher than in the middle projection, and it is over 11 percent higher by 2050. The high immigration projection would mean a U.S. population in 2050 of 438,299,000 people. The net-zero projection shows that if today’s mass immigration were significantly scaled back, the population increase attributable to immigration could be significantly reduced over time.

The U.S.-born population is increasing by less than one percent per year (.76%) since 2000. At that rate, the U.S.-born population will double in 93 years. By contrast, the foreign-born population is increasing at nearly three percent per year (2.8%) since 2000. At that rate, the foreign-born population will double in 25 years. This difference in the rate of increase is why the foreign-born share grew from less than one-in-twenty residents (4.7%) in 1970 to one-in-eight (12.5%) in 2006. Unless there is a change in the immigration law and/or in its enforcement, this trend likely will result in a foreign-born share of the population that soon exceeds the highest level ever recorded in the United States, i.e., 15 percent in 1890. If the rates of change cited above continue, the U.S. population in 2025 would include about 303 million native-born residents and about 67 million foreign-born residents. That would be a foreign-born share of more than 18 percent of the overall population with no end in sight.

FAIR judges that the Census Bureau’s middle series projection understated future population growth. This was borne out when the Census Bureau revised the earlier projection following the 2000 Census. The new mid-level population projection for 2025 was 349.7 million residents, and for 2050 it was for 420.1 million residents. In 2008, the Census Bureau issued a new projection with still higher population numbers. The projected population in 2025 is 357.5 million, and in 2050 is 439 million. No alternative scenarios were released with the new projection. FAIR still judges that this projection understates future population growth. According to a projection released by FAIR in 2006 (Projecting the U.S. Population to 2050: Four Immigration Scenarios), our population is likely to reach 364 million by 2025 and 461 million by 2050 with a continuation of current immigration. It would grow even faster if proposed immigration legislation were enacted (see chart below).

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Illegal resident aliens

FAIR Estimate FAIR’s estimate of the illegal alien population as of 2007 is over 13 million persons.

INS/DHS Estimate The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated that the illegal alien population in 2007 was 11.78 million persons. This was an increase of 39.2 percent from an estimated resident illegal population in 2000 of 8.46 million persons. This indicates that the estimated illegal alien population rose by an annual average of 475,000 per year over this period

The Census Bureau issued an estimate in January 2002 that the illegal alien population in 2000 was 8,705,421. That estimate was based on the discrepancy between the number of foreign-born residents and the number of legally admitted immigrants. Included in that number may be aliens residing in the United States under provisions that preclude their deportation, but who are not legal permanent residents, such as beneficiaries of Section 245(i) petitions, or asylees who have not been in the country long enough for adjustment of status, or Central American beneficiaries of the NACARA legislation.

FAIR estimated the illegal alien population in mid-2004 at 10-12 million persons. The Center for Immigration Studies estimated this population at 10 million as of 2004. A much higher estimate of as many as 20 million illegal aliens by Bear-Stearns analysts in January 2005 was based on trend data in housing starts, school enrollment and remittances. The Bear-Stearns analysts relied on an estimated annual entry of about three million illegal aliens a probable overestimate because of duplicate counting.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS now part of DHS) estimated the size of the nation’s illegal immigration problem at five million residents (in the country for at least a year) as of 1996. The INS then estimated the annual net increase in illegal immigrants at 275,000 per year. And, the Census Bureau estimated the illegal alien population to be increasing by 225,000 per year. In light of the 2000 Census findings, it is clear that the net increase in the illegal alien population was closer to 400,000 to 500,000 per year.

The DHS and INS estimates do not include certain categories of aliens who enter the country illegally or overstay their entry permit, such as persons granted Temporary Protected Status and given work permits after a natural disaster or political instability in their home country leads to a decision to halt their deportation.

The latest INS estimate attributed the share of illegal aliens who entered legally but stayed and or took jobs illegally at one third, down from 39 percent in its 1998 estimate. That meant that two-thirds of the illegal alien population entered without inspection (referred to as EWI in INS parlance).

In February 2001 researchers at Northeastern Univ. released a finding that the illegal alien population may have grown to as many as 11 million. The research pointed to illegal immigration as the only plausible explanation for the unexpectedly large number of residents in the country found in the 2000 Census and the discrepancy between payroll data and employment data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Asked by the Boston Globe about the finding, Census Director Kenneth Prewitt said “it is clear that the number of undocumented immigrants is higher [than the INS estimate], but how much higher is unknown.” (Boston Globe, Feb. 6, 2001.

Other estimates by independent researchers include one published in Demography in August 2001 that put the total illegal population at 7.1 million (3.9 million Mexicans) and another in the same month by a demographer at the Urban Institute who put the total illegal alien population at 8.5 million (4.5 million Mexicans).

Other Estimates – The Pew Hispanic Center estimated the illegal alien population of the United States at 11.5 to 12 million in a March 2006 report.

Incarceration Costs – State and local jurisdictions receive partial compensation under the federal State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) established in 1994 to help defray the costs of incarceration of deportable aliens who are serving time for a felony conviction or at least two misdemeanors. Recent budgets submitted by the Bush administration have attempted to end the program by omitting any funding request. Congress, nevertheless, has continued to fund the program.

Recent SCAAP distributions to the states and local jurisdictions have been:

FY’99  —  $573 million
FY’00  —  $569 million
FY’01  —  $535 million
FY’02  —  $543 million
FY’03  —  $240 million
FY’04  —  $282 million
FY’05  —  $287 million
FY’06  —  $376 million

The SCAAP program covers only a share of corrections staff salaries related to the incarceration of criminal aliens. Other expenses such as the feeding, clothing, and medical attention provided to those prisoners are not included in the compensation calculation. According to House Concurrent Resolution 95, which passed the U.S. Senate on March 26, 2003, the “costs associated with the incarceration of undocumented criminal aliens” cost state and local governments more than $13 billion in FY’02.

The amount of SCAAP awards has leveled off after declining significantly in both total distributions and as a share of the state’s expenses, which have been rising. In FY’99 the states and local jurisdictions received less than 39 percent of their itemized salary expenses. SCAAP data from FY’02 indicate that the level of compensation fell to less than 20 percent of expenses. Meanwhile, SCAAP data indicate that the amount of illegal alien detention increased between FY’99 and FY’02 by about 45 percent (from about 25.3 thousand prisoner years to about 36.6 thousand prisoner years), while compensation decreased by five percent, and it dropped precipitously the following year.

Recent SCAAP awards have fluctuated, with the most recent awards in FY’05 representing 33.5 percent of that portion of reported salary costs related to incarceration of criminal aliens. Earlier recent distributions were 42.2 percent in FY’04, and 33.9 percent in FY’03. The Department of Homeland Security, which administers the SCAAP program, has ceased publicly releasing information on the data submissions by the states, but data for FY’04 and FY’03 indicate that the level of prisoner years used in the calculation of SCAAP awards has leveled off: FY’04 74,363, FY’03 74,603.

Medical Costs – Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, hospitals with emergency rooms are required to treat and stabilize patients with emergency medical needs regardless whether or not they are in the country legally or whether they are able to pay for the treatment. Congress in 2003 enacted an appropriation of $250 million per year (for 4 years) to help offset some of the costs due to use of this service by illegal aliens. These costs under Medicaid and Medicare were estimated in 1997 by Dr. Huddle of Rice University at $3.2 billion (see The Cost of Immigration ). With the size of the illegal alien population more than doubled since that time and the increase in the cost of medical care, the costs today would be much higher.

Educational Costs – In our study Breaking the Piggy Bank: How Illegal Immigration is Sending Schools into the Red, we estimated based on 2004 data that educational expenditures for illegal immigration were costing the American taxpayer $28.6 billion dollars annually. This cost was partially for educating students who were themselves illegally in the country ($12.0 billion) and in part for the education of their siblings born in the United States to illegal residents ($16.7 billion).

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