Unauthorized population of the U.S.

According to the Deparment of Homeland Security, the unauthorized population has remained roughly the same since 2010, with a recent dip and resurgence. Here are some figures.

The total number of unauthorized persons was in 2008 at 8.5 million, about 11.1 million in 2010, increased to 11.6 million in 2018, dipped, then rose and stood at 11 million in 2022 (go here).

The Mexican share in 2022 was 44%, down from 47% in 2018. The greatest percentage rise since 2018 has been Venezuelans, now at about 3%. Most if not all of these Venezuelans arrived under the Temporary Protected Status system.

The size of the unauthorized immigrant population that arrived since 2010 declined by 280,000 from 2018 to 2020, then grew by 630,000 from 2020 to 2022. The vast majority of the population, or 79%, entered before 2010, but that percentage is declining from 83% in 2018 as new unauthorized entrants arrived and earlier entrance emigrate, die, or just illegally resident status.

My analysis of Temporary Protected Status suggests that the most of the additional unauthorized persons were under TPS.

The Center for Immigration Studies claims that there has been hundreds of thousands of “illegal” migrants entering the country, and Repulican politicians uniformly claim they crossed the Mexican border.  This surge according to them has continued through recent years, The BHS figures in effect dispute this by the role of TPS increases.

Note that the DHS labels as unauthorized people here with temporary protections. Most unauthorized immigrants either entered the United States without inspection, or were admitted temporally and remain past the date they were required to depart. Persons who are beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA], or other forms of prosecutorial discretion, or who are residing in the United States while awaiting removal proceedings in the regression cards, are included among the DHS estimates of the unauthorized population.

Other Interesting facts:

Emigration: between 1980 and 2021, 6.7 million foreign-born persons with green cards emigrated from the U.S. At an average of 150,000 a year, compared to about 800,000 green card issued per year over this time.

Total size of the Temporary Protected Status, asylee, and refugee population in the U.S. 26 million admitted between 1980 and 2021. The TPS population
grew significantly. Under Biden’s policy, there will soon be one million TPS persons in the U.S.

Mass deportation planned by Trump

Reportedly at Donald Trump’s request, the GOP platform released on July 8 endorses the idea of mass deportations. (See the actual language at the end.) Since announcing his candidacy for President, he has tried to make immigration a potent political issue. Mass deportation will make the child separation policy of the Trump administration in early 2017 look like unwarranted minor controversy. It will provoke highly visible, concerted opposition, including by the media. Democratic candidates for November will turn the issue into a cause celebre.

Mass deportation is a uniquely Trumpian idea. It is not present or implied in Republican proposals for immigration reform such as by Senator Cotton of the House Republican’s H.R.2.

In France and England, extreme anti-immigration has shown to be a rallying cry for perhaps 15% of the voting public.  The rest of the electorate has either mixed feelings, and/or is irked by anti-immigration appeals.  The French and British elections in the past week reflect this distribution of sentiment.

There are about 11 million unauthorized persons in the U.S.  Most unauthorized immigrants have been in the U.S.  likely for over 10 years. 38% of undocumented immigrants are parents of US citizens.  I expect that pro-immigration groups, including the many evangelicals who are Hispanic (who make up a third of all evangelicals)  will vigorously oppose a mass deportation initiative.

To carry out a mass deportation strategy will require participation by state and local law enforcement. Oklahoma is the only state I know that requires police to turn in persons they think are here illegally. Roughly half of the unauthorized population live in blue states.

The GOP platform passage:

Begin largest deportation program in American history: President Trump and Republicans will reverse the Democrat’s destructive open borders policies that have allowed criminal gangs and the legal aliens from around the world to roam the United States without consequences. The Republican party is committed to sending illegal aliens back home and removing those who have violated our laws.




“nomad” visas

A “nomad visa” (or digital nomad visa) allows remote workers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to live and work in a foreign country for an extended period. These visa began to become popular since the pandemic ended, in 2022.

These visas are typically used by persons working remotely for a company located outside the host country. they  include extended stays, simplified application processes, and potential tax benefits. Applicants must prove a steady income or sufficient funds. Estonia, Germany, Costa Rica, Croatia, Mexico (apparently a very popular location), the Canary Islands, Slovenia, Thailand, Japan, Portugal and many other countries offer digital nomad visas. The number of host countries has grown rapidly to about 60 as of Spring 2024.

It is unclear how many people have been issued this visa. One estimate for U.S. citizens is 17 million, which is ridiculously high given as there are 160 million in the workforce within the U.S. and the Migration Policy Institute’s website estimates that only 3 million Americans live outside the U.S.

Here is a useful overview of this visa alternative, including summaries of visa requirements. For instance, The visa for Costa Rica is good for two years. Conditions The visa for Costa Rica (referred to as the Rentista) is good for two years. Conditions to apply for this nomad visa include proof of $3,000 monthly income and travel/medical insurance, Also go here.

For Mexico, the visa is call a Temporary Resident Visa, available for one year, extendable to four years, in contrast to a normal non-immigrant visa good for only up to 180 days.

How slow our visa system is

If your spouse is a U.S. citizen and you currently live in the United States, it takes on average 10–23 months to get a marriage-based green card. Spouses of U.S. citizens living in the United States can file their I-130 and their I-485 at the same time (also known as “concurrent filing”).

If your spouse is a U.S. citizen and you currently live outside the United States, it takes on average 13.5–15 months to get a spousal visa.

Source: Boundless


Biden’s new policy regarding unauthorized spouses

The policy announced on June 18 uses a policy tool favored by Biden, “parole,” to legalize temporarily the status of about 5% of the unauthorized population.  The White House is daring Trump and other Republicans to attack and sue.

On June 18 the Biden administration issued protections for two classes of persons legally subject to deportation: unauthorized persons who are married to an American citizen,and a backstop for DACA beneficiaries.

The June 18 policy uses the “parole” provisions of immigration law. Parole provisions authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to allow persons to stay in the U.S. who otherwise are not allowed in the country. Parole needs to be justified on the grounds of either humanitarianism or “significant public benefit.”  See here for an analysis and below for a brief history of the provision.

FWD.us explains spousal protection and DACA-related protections. This posting addressed the spousal policy.

There are about 11 million unauthorized persons in the U.S. – about the same as 10 years ago.  About 1.1 million (10%) are married to an American citizen. 500,000 of these have been in the U.S. for at least ten years and are legally married on or before June 17, 2024.  Many of them arrived in the 1990s or earlier – the average tenure in the U.S. of these 500,000 is 23 years!

Whom it will benefit:  500,000 authorized persons who are married and their children who are assured their parent will not be deported. This includes children born in the U.S. and who came as children. Some of them today are in their 50s.

Who is excluded:

These 500,000 persons are a small share of the roughly 8 million unauthorized persons who today (June 2024) have been in the U.S. for at least 10 years.  Many of these unauthorized person are in a couple both of whom are unauthorized, either formally married or in common law marriages. Many have children born in the U.S.

There are about six million U.S. born children who have at least one unauthorized parent. It appears likely that a small share of these children will be positively affected by this policy – which affects only children one of whose formally married parents is a citizen, and their unauthorized parent must have been here for ten year.

Those who are legally mixed but not married as of June 17, 2024: Assuredly many unmarried unauthorized persons who have been in the U.S.  will rush to establish evidence that they were legally married. In California the key document proving is a certified copy of the marriage certificate issued by the county where one obtained a marriage license.  (After the 1986 Immigration and Reform Act was passed, which favored naturalization for farm workers, many unauthorized persons rushed to claim farm employment).

Parole – a brief history

Parole was first used in the 1950s to admit refugees into the country. In 1956, President Eisenhower directed the Attorney General to parole 30,000 Hungarian refugees.

Throughout the 1960s-1970s, parole was increasingly used for refugee crises, admitting over 690,000 Cubans and 360,000 refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Another 130,000 Vietnam War refugees were paroled.  In the 1980s, parole was used to admit groups like Cubans, Haitians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Soviets who didn’t qualify as refugees.  The 1996 immigration reform limited parole to case-by-case humanitarian or public benefit reasons, though it continued for groups like Cubans.  The Biden administration has extansively used parole to relieve pressure at the border and the asylum system.


More on the positive effect on immigration on recent job growth

A Brookings paper issued on March 7 looks at the effect of the surge in immigration on the U.S. economy in recent years, which I have noted several times (including here, 3 million new workers). It estimates that, compared to forecasts for 2023 made in pre-pandemic 2019, there were an average increase in the workforce of 160,000 – 200,000 actual versus the 2019 forecast of 60,000 – 100,000. Such a relative size of disparity occurred in 2022 appears to continue into 2024. The authors say this contribution to employment by the added supply of workers may account for the strong growth in consumer spending as well as job growth.

They say this added 0.1 points to the growth in GDP in 2023, that is, added a very little to the 2023’s GDP growth rate of 3.1%. More importantly, it staved off risk of a recession, and due to the added supply did not force up wages (perhaps except for low wage jobs, which remain hard to fill such as in hotel housekeeping and retail).

However – both Canada and Australia have noted their rise in immigration as helping to drive up housing costs. I do not think this has been addressed for the U.S.

Right wing political leaders in France, Germany and UK on immigration

Marine Le Pen (France) Marine Le Pen is the leader of the far-right National Rally (formerly National Front). She believes that multiculturalism (particularly with regard to Islam) has failed and calls for a moratorium on legal immigration.  She is opposed to allowing illegal immigrants to become legal residents.  Her party won over 31% of the vote in the European Union Parliament elections on June 6-9, 2024 (first place) compared to 16% in the prior election.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party does not have a single leader. Among the party’s positions, it wants to severely curtail asylum-based immigration.  it views Islam as a threat to traditional Christian values, describing Muslim immigration as “a danger to our state, our society, and our values.” The Party won 11% of the June, 2024 (second place) vote compared with 6% in the prior election.

Nigel Farage, leader of the Reform UK Party, is standing for election for the British House of Commons July 4, 2024. He wants to reduce net immigration to zero. He says that the upcoming election is “the immigration election.” He argues that high immigration has suppressed wages and overburdened public services.

A critique of Biden’s border policy

Nolan Rappaport has written often on immigration. He is a careful writer. He is in general supportive of broad-based policies and practices to severely restrict Mexican border crossings by migrants. His articles which can be accessed on the internet do not reveal an overall approach to immigration. The article below, which I include in full, was published on June 10 in The Hill.

A tight summary of Rappaport’s article: President Biden’s proposed Senate Border Act of 2024 was a political gambit that would not have closed down illegal (between the ports of entry) crossings. “Catch and release” and legal pathways for entry without visas. The overwhelming backlog in immigration courts further exacerbates the problem, undermining the asylum system and border security.

I have posted often on the broken asylum system the backlogs of which incents people to claim asylum.  Rappaport adds that, in his view, Biden’s 2020 campaign promises and quick reversal of Trump’s draconian border policies stimulated more border crossing – and Biden’s use of Temporary Protective Status only added another incentive.

Note that I have mentioned that courts may not permit Biden use section (212)f of the Immigration and Nationalization Act to override the country’s asylum laws. Rappaport appears confident that the courts will.

The article in full:

When asked if he had done everything he could do to secure the border, President Biden said he can’t get it done with executive power alone. Consequently, he instructed his team to engage in “negotiations with a bipartisan group of senators to seriously, and finally, address the border crisis.”

The negotiations resulted in the Senate Border Act of 2024 (Border Act), which, he says, if enacted, would be “the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country.” Among other things, it would establish “a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed,” and he would use that authority the day he signed the bill into law.

But Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) claims that Biden hasn’t really tried to secure the border. In fact, since his first day in office, his administration has systematically undermined America’s border security.

I share Johnson’s skepticism about Biden’s intentions. He caused the border crisis with his immigration policies, and the Border Act his team negotiated would not eliminate those policies.

Immigration expert Steven Camarota also thinks that Biden caused the border crisis. Illegal border crossings increased dramatically around the time he took office. This sudden increase surely was caused in large part by Biden’s campaign promises to loosen asylum standards, curtail enforcement and pass an amnesty. These promises created the reasonable belief among undocumented migrants that they would be granted entry at the southern border without a visa.

Moreover, Biden has kept most of his promises, and he has established programs for bypassing the visa system to let undocumented migrants into the country without visas.

His administration has used “catch and release” to let more than 2.3 million migrants into the country without visas during the first three years of the Biden presidency; the number of releases would have been much larger if the administration had not had to expel 2.5 million migrants pursuant to the pandemic-era Title 42 order.

Biden doesn’t need the Border Act to end catch and release. It’s his policy. He could end it by issuing an executive order telling appropriate agency heads to stop doing it.

In fact, the Border Act would permit him to release up to 5,000 illegal border crossers a day.

It has a provision that would give Biden the authority to shut down the border, but it wouldn’t require him to shut down the border unless the seven-day average of illegal crossings rises above 5,000 per day — that’s almost 2 million per year.

In addition, the Border Act doesn’t provide a way to stop him from ignoring the shut-down requirement the way he has ignored the statutory immigration enforcement provisions. And it wouldn’t terminate the “legal pathways” his administration has created to let migrants into the country without visas. Such pathways include special processes for paroling up to 30,000 migrants a month into the country from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, and a Family Reunification Parole Process for nationals from other countries.

The Border Act wouldn’t end the administration’s CBP One mobile application program either. This program permits migrants without visas to schedule inspections at a port of entry on the southwest border. Nearly 250,000 migrants have been inspected as of August 2023, and 99.7 percent of the inspections resulted in letting the migrant into the country. The administration also has used the CBP One program to bring 320,000 inadmissible immigrants from foreign countries to American airports.

Lastly, the Border Act wouldn’t require the administration to enforce the immigration laws against undocumented migrants who have reached the interior of the country. DHS Guidelines for the Enforcement of Civil Immigration Law limit enforcement actions to deportable migrants “who pose a threat to national security, public safety, and border security and thus threaten America’s well-being.” This means that the illegal border crossers the administration releases into the interior of the country are shielded from enforcement proceedings if they are just here in violation of our laws.

They aren’t likely to be deported in any case. There were 1,292,830 migrants subject to final deportation orders in fiscal 2023, and ICE only removed 142,580 of them.

The release of millions of migrants into the country who claim to be asylum seekers overwhelmed the immigration court, which then caused a backlog crisis. The immigration court had a backlog of 1,290,766 cases when Biden began his presidency. It is more than 3,524,051 cases now. Individual immigration judges have an average of more than 4.500 pending cases, and the average wait time for a hearing is 4.3 years.

And the administration is not making progress on eliminating the backlog. As of the end of March in fiscal 2024, the immigration court had received 1,155,024 new cases, and it only had closed 434,996. At this rate, the court would have to have almost three times as many judges just to keep up with new cases.

The Migration Policy Institute says this combination of years-long backlogs and unlikely returns is at the heart of our broken asylum system, and “[t]hat brokenness contributes to the pull factors driving today’s migration to the U.S.-Mexico border, thereby undermining the integrity of the asylum and immigration adjudicative systems, and immigration enforcement overall.”

It may be necessary to suspend the admission of asylum seekers to give the immigration court a chance to catch up, which Biden could do with the authority Congress delegated to presidents in INA Section 212(f).

The Supreme Court held in Trump v. Hawaii that section 212(f) “exudes deference to the President in every clause. It entrusts to the President the decisions whether and when to suspend entry, whose entry to suspend, for how long, and on what conditions.” The sole prerequisite is that the president find that the entry of the covered aliens “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

Moreover, neither the legislative history of section 212(f) nor historical practice justifies departing from its clear text.

We do need immigration reform legislation, but we won’t get the legislation needed to secure the border when Biden’s team leads the negotiations. That puts the fox in charge of guarding the hen house.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him at: https://nolanhillop-eds.blogspot.com.



Political alignment and immigration views

The independent voter remains moderate on immigration. It’s the partisans who have veered away from each other, as their views on social issues have widened their gap.

First, consider how social and economic views have evolved in the past 20 years, according to Gallup. This is a summary of Gallup’s assessment:

Americans have become significantly more liberal in their views on social issues over the past 25 years, with liberal, moderate, and conservative perspectives now equally prevalent. These trends are driven entirely by Democrats, who have become much more likely to hold liberal views on both social and economic matters compared to 10-20 years ago. In contrast, Republicans’ and independents’ ideological leanings have remained relatively stable. The growing liberal tilt, concentrated among Democrats, has reshaped the national landscape on social issues towards greater ideological parity.

Second, the gap in party affiliation over immigration has widened greatly, with Republicans becoming more restrictionist and Democrats more inclusive. (But the median voter remains at keeping immigration levels where they are.) Persons who consider immigration as a “vital threat” to America: between 2010 and 2022, Republicans grew 8 points from 62 to 70; Democrat declined by 21 points from 41 to 18; but Independents declined by 12 points from 51 to 39.

Third, consider how the Biden administration has been profiled by Republican politicians as exceedingly and purposefully inclusive while their prospective immigration policy for the second Trump administration is exceedingly restrictive, going as far as massive deportation of unauthorized persons.

Trump has stated his interest in mass deportation of authorized immigrants, including the National Guard.


8% of children in the U.S. have at least one unauthorized parent

Trump has stated his interest in mass deportation of authorized immigrants, including the National Guard.

In 2013, there were about 5 million U.S. born children of at least one unauthorized person (go here). Assuming 2 children per unauthorized parent, this suggests that about 2.5 million of the 11 million unauthorized persons are adults with U.S. born children. The number of such children (say to 6 million) and the number of such parents (say to 3 million) have most likely increased since then.

There are about 70 million persons under the age of 18 now. Thus, about 6/70 or about 8% of U.S. citizen children will be deprived of at least one parent.