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How many illegal aliens reside in the United States?

how can i report an illegal alien

This section presents an introduction to alternative methodologies to accurately estimate the number of illegal aliens living in the United States. To read the detailed analysis, please see:

The mainstream media, whenever it actually mentions the number of illegal aliens living in the United States, categorically quotes the official government figure of 8-12 million. This number originated with the Department of Homeland Security, which in December 2003 estimated 8 million to 12 million illegal aliens resided in the United States and that 700,000 new illegals enter each year and remain in the country. 1  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).

Even though it is quite clear that huge numbers of illegal aliens sneak into our country and avoid capture at our border, the media as well as government agencies seem quite content to under-report these numbers. The static official estimates are somewhat suspect, as they are produced by the very entity responsible for the tidal wave of illegal aliens entering our nation - the United States Government. Alternative methodologies estimate a range of numbers that is likely more realistic.

Nancy Boulton observes that:

Estimates of the size of the illegal alien population currently living in the U.S. range from about 12 million to over 20 million. The lower number is based on Census Bureau estimates of the foreign-born population in various Census Bureau surveys. The larger number is based on methodology that is not reliant on a respondent’s candor. it is virtually impossible to get an accurate count of populations who are resistant to being identified. Given the problem of porous borders and incentives to avoid detection, the higher estimate is not unreasonable. 5

Indeed, U.S. Border Patrol Local 2544 stated 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).

Alternative methodologies

Alternative methodologies conclude that between 20 million and 40 million illegal aliens have evaded apprehension and live in the United States.

The official number was questioned by D.A. King of The Dustin Inman Society in 2004. Subsequently, an in-depth analysis was published by Fred Elbel 1,7. In 2007, The Social Contract published an entire issue addressing the numbers of illegal aliens in the US 2.

Nancy Boulton pointed out that two researchers at Bear Stearns Asset Management estimated that the number of illegal immigrants in 2005 could be as high as 20 million. Their figures were based on an analysis of the large discrepancy between official census estimates and growth in indicators such as remittances to the countries of origin, school enrollment and building permits. 5,8

Bolton also notes that:

If even one person is successful for every apprehension, it implies over 1 million foreigners per year illegally cross our southern border. In addition, there are roughly 30 million foreign nationals admitted to the U.S. each year on temporary visas. There are no data on the percentage of these visitors who overstay their visas, but data from the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs indicate about 8 percent of those admitted to that country on temporary visas overstay their visa and about 86 percent of those overstay by a year or more. If just 1 percent of the 30 million admitted on temporary visas to the U.S. do not leave as they are required to, that adds another 300,000 foreigners illegally in the U.S. each year.

The analysis by James H. Walsh notes that estimates compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau (USCB), national surveys, governmental agencies, philanthropic organizations, religious charities, nongovernment statistics-keeping agencies, and immigrant advocates range from 7 million to 20 million illegal aliens. Walsh concludes that the number is closer to 2 times 20 million, or 40 million. 4 Walsh notes that in 1992,

an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General found INS statistics suspect and cited deliberate deception by senior INS officials tampering with immigration statistics. U.S. Border Patrol agents confided that they were told to cap apprehensions and deportations to conform to the desires

of various Administrations to create at least a public perception of border control.

Walsh also notes that:

The average number of recorded apprehensions of illegal aliens in the United States now hovers at 1.2 millio a year [in 2007]. A DHS report, Border Apprehensions: 2005. documented 1.3 million apprehensions in 2005. For the 10-year period (1996–2005), the highest number of apprehensions, 1.8 million, occurred in 2000, and the lowest, 1 million, in 2003. These DHS statistics contradict persistent statements by other government agencies that only 400,000 to 500,000 illegal aliens enter the country each year.

Journeymen Border Patrol agents (on the job five years or more) estimate that a minimum of five illegal aliens enter the United States for each apprehension, and more likely seven. That informed estimate would raise the total number of illegal aliens entering the United States in 2003 to 8 million men, women, and children.

He concludes that:

My estimate of 38 million illegal aliens residing in the United States is calculated, however, using a conservative annual rate of entry (allowing for deaths and returns to their homelands) of three illegal aliens entering the United States for each one apprehended. My estimate includes apprehensions at the Southern Border (by far, the majority), at the Northern Border, along the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico coasts, and at seaports and airports. Taking the DHS average of 1.2 million apprehensions per year and multiplying it by 3 comes to 3.6 million illegal entries per year; then multiplying that number by 10 for the 1996–2005 period, my calculations come to 36 million illegal entries into the United States. Add to this the approximately 2 million visa overstays during the same period, and the total is 38 million illegal aliens currently in the United States.

Elbel also focused on the ratio of border apprehensions to "get-aways". The methodology used in his analysis was as follows: 7

  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.
  • 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.
  • Factor “short term stays” from the overall estimate. Some illegal aliens voluntarily return home in less than year.
  • Estimate the total number of illegal aliens living in the United States, based upon the estimate of illegals entering and evading apprehension each year.
  • Elbel's conclusion was that it is likely that at least 20 million illegal aliens presently reside in the United States, with up to 12,000 additional illegal aliens entering every day.

    In the January, 2013 article, "Over the line: Fighting corruption on our border ", Arizona rancher John Ladd stated "I say about a half a million people have been caught on the ranch. And that's what's been caught - that's not what's got through."

    The promise of amnesty

    One of the driving factors that results in unending illegal immigration into the United States is simply the mention of a possible amnesty. Holding out the carrot of amnesty has been sufficient to keep wave of wave of illegal aliens sneaking into the United States. The result is that corporations get thousands upon thousands of new consumers, Republicans get an unending stream of cheap foreign labor, and Democrats get wave after wave of "undocumented Democrats".


    Using the latest conservative Census Bureau data from 2010 and 2011, the Center for Immigration Studies reports that more than 50 million immigrants (legal and illegal) live in the United States, and that "Absent a change in policy, between 12 and 15 million new immigrants (legal and illegal) will likely settle in the United States in the next decade. And perhaps 30 million new immigrants will arrive in the next 20 years." 10

    The magnitude of the numbers of illegal aliens in the United States represents a serious crisis and urgent need for a return to the rule of law and secured borders that the United States Constitution demands.

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