Count on It: Government Lowballs Illegal Aliens



Many analysts have skewered Yale University researchers who “conservatively” peg America’s illegal alien population at 16.7 million, and likely much higher.

The new study’s findings, which range up to 29.5 million, far exceed widely cited estimates, notably the 11.3 million figure compiled by the Pew Research Center in fiscal 2016.

The Yale report may be over the top, but is it reasonable to believe there are fewer illegal aliens in this country than a decade ago? That’s what the government and the mainstream media would have you think.

In 2006, the Department of Homeland Security stated that 11.55 million illegal aliens were present. Ten years later, Americans were told that the illegal population fell 2.2 percent while the U.S. population increased 8.7 percent.

In light of Republican and Democratic administrations tolerating loose borders, practicing catch-and-release policies and soft interior enforcement, a declining number of illegal aliens seems improbable. Based on available data, FAIR’s conservative estimate of the illegal alien population is 12.5 million.

Edward Kaplan, a co-author of the Yale study, noted that enumerating illegal aliens is fraught with pitfalls, and that government surveys dependent on voluntary information are inevitably prone to undercounts.

“One must locate undocumented immigrants and, once located, subjects must truthfully report they were foreign born,” Kaplan said. “Obviously [they]do not wish to be found, nor is it in their interest to reveal their place of birth.”

Kaplan said tens of millions of people fall into the category of declining to answer surveys. Admitting as much, President Barack Obama’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana testified to Congress that the number of illegals could be 15 million.

DHS’s own documents suggest that the government undercounts illegals in this country. DHS recently reported 628,799 visa overstays in fiscal 2016. Yet its report does not cover all foreign visitors to the United States, such as those who enter through a vehicular or land point of entry. Nor does it enumerate the total estimated overstay population currently in the United States.

Despite years of work, federal agencies still have not developed a reliable tracking system to identify visa overstayers – a key subset of the illegal population.

Amid the confusion and contention over the presence of illegal aliens in the U.S., the government has a responsibility to get the data right. Numbers matter, as FAIR detailed in its landmark study on the multibillion-dollar costs that illegals impose on taxpayers.

While analysts have raised serious questions about the Yale study’s methodology, it also seems that DHS & Co. haven’t gone far enough to get to the full accounting the American public deserves.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

6 Comments

  1. avatar

    LMAO ! LEGAL OR ILLEGAL OR NOT THEY STILL CONTRIBUTING TO ITS SOCIETY . LOOK AT NIGERIAN INTERNRT SCAM . The Damages they make is nothing compares to illegal alien makes . People are just looking to find scapegoat here . Truly pathetic .

  2. avatar

    When did you EVER see a social or economic problem that wasn’t AT LEAST TWICE, and generally THREE TIMES, as bad as government bureaucrats and corrupt political hacks would admit?

  3. avatar

    That figure of 11 million has been reported for over a decade. Are we really supposed to believe that is true with the eight years of Obama, when by their own admission the chances of being deported from the interior of the country were almost “zero”? Not only does that mean that THOSE people were here to stay, but they also sent the message back home that just try a time or two to cross the border and then you’re here.

    The talking point is that “more people have returned to Mexico than come here illegally now”. But that is based on surveys done by the Mexican government in Mexico, who are hardly neutral in the issue. They want it not to be seen as a problem so they can continue with their takeover of this country, assisted by mainly the Democrats but also too many Republicans. Flake was one of the “gang of eight” who tried to pass a massive complete amnesty in 2013.

    That also does not address the masses of people from OTHER countries who crossed the border illegally. The border patrol has arrested thousands of people from Bangladesh at the southern border. And obviously when there are records of people entering this country every year on visas, but no records of hundreds of thousands leaving, that means most are still here and part of an ever growing number. It’s common sense that the number of 11 million has grown greatly and is very likely well over 20 million. Listen to three scientists or listen to some open borders politician. That choice seem obvious.

  4. avatar

    Crooked, cowardly Senator Flake is going to go down in history as one of the greatest traitors in American history. Shame on you Crooked Senator Flake!

    Judge Kavanaugh is a far greater man than you will ever be Crooked Flake.

    • avatar

      There was something weird about Ford saying she had a second front door added during a 2012 remodel. But could that have been added for a rental apartment?