How many came into the US under Biden? How many new workers?

I guess that at the end of April, 2024, there are around five million more foreign born persons in the U.S. than at the start of the Biden Administration. This includes the net of persons arriving and departing with a permanent visa or temporary work visa, a net change in the number of persons with a student visa, those admitted pending asylum or other adjudication, and the net of persons who snuck into the border or overstayed their non-visa (largely tourist) visit.

This is an order-of-magnitude guess.  Assuming five million, this implies that at there are least three million more foreign born workers in the U.S. than in 2020, working legally or illegally, or waiting for legal authorization before working.

The entire workforce (“labor force”) of the U.S. increased by six million between 2020 (161 million) and December 2023 (167 million). The Biden era rise in foreign- born may have contributed one half of that. Prior to Biden, foreign born workers accounted for about 18% of the workforce.

Given the high labor partition rate of foreign born vs U.S. born (say, 70% vs 60%) the role of foreign-born workers is all the more important.

The reality is that no agency or non-governmental organization is responsible for estimating the entire flow of persons in the U.S, in any given year.  For instance, landings from outside the country by planes in one of the 30 or so American airports bring in returning Americans, temporary and permanent visitors. Land crossings along the Canadian and Mexican border are hugely loaded with persons coming over to work for a day. Government figures do not break out the number of persons who cross regularly.

As for the border crisis of persons trying to enter outside formal ports of entry, Customs and Border Patrol does not succinctly break out repeaters – we know are many.


What we can say is this:

Legal “humanitarian parole” populations have gone up a lot in the Biden Administration (go here). So have persons here under Temporary Protected Status though this applies only to persons inside the U.S. when the visa was granted (go here).

Since the start of the Biden administration CBP has released 2.5 million with notices to appear in immigration court or report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the future, or other classifications such as parole.

How many have snuck without being caught? DHS uses a rule of thumb that 78% of illegal crossings are caught. This ratio is based on estimates made during years of much fewer encounters at the border. I think uses of figure of “gotaways” of 22% or 660,000 a year. Using this rule of thumb results in a figure o 1.6 million illegal and successful crossings.

for an exasperatingly complex analysis of border activity, go here.

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