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Foreign-born U.S. population hits record high at 49.5 million in October
By Belle Carter // Dec 12, 2023

The total foreign-born or immigrant population, both legal and illegal, reached a historic high of 49.5 million in October – a 4.5 million increase since President Joe Biden was installed into office and larger than the individual populations of 25 American states. The Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS) also reflected that 15 percent of the U.S. population is now foreign-born, higher than any U.S. government survey or census has ever recorded.

According to the findings, based on prior estimates of illegal immigrants, 2.5 million of the 4.5 million increase in the foreign-born population since January 2021 is likely due to illegal immigration. If adjusted for those missed by the survey, the increase would be larger. The number of new arrivals was significantly higher but was offset by outmigration and natural mortality among the foreign-born already here. Moreover, the foreign-born population has increased on average by 137,000 a month since Biden took office, compared to 42,000 a month during former President Donald Trump's presidency before the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) hit and 68,000 a month during former President Barack Obama's two terms.

"The scale of immigration is so high that it appears to have made the new Census Bureau population projections, published on November 9 of this year, obsolete. The bureau projected that the foreign-born share was not supposed to hit 15 percent until 2033," the survey further indicated, adding that the largest percentage increases since January 2021 are for immigrants from South America (up 28 percent); Central America (up 25 percent); Sub-Saharan Africa (up 21 percent); the Caribbean (up 20 percent); and the Middle East (up 14 percent). Also, Latin American immigrants rose by 2.9 million since January 2021, which accounted for 63 percent of the total increase in foreign-born.

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Legal immigrants account for three-fourths of the total foreign-born population.

The CPS, sometimes referred to as the "household survey" and collected each month by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), has the primary purpose of collecting information about the U.S. labor market, such as the unemployment rate. Still, starting in 1994, questions about citizenship, country of birth, and year of arrival were added. The said survey has been deemed important because administrative numbers such as border encounters or even legal immigrant arrivals do not measure the actual size of the immigrant population, which is what ultimately determines immigration's impact on the country.

Foreign population rapid growth factors

The anti-immigration think tank Center for Immigration Studies listed down possible reasons for the foreign-born population legally and illegally immigrating into the United States.

One interpretation of the dramatic growth in the foreign-born population is that it is making up for the slowdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, it said in an analysis. "During COVID-19, the processing of visas overseas greatly slowed. Of course, there is no reason legal immigration had to return to pre-pandemic levels, as the number of immigrants admitted is a discretionary policy set by Congress," it pointed out, adding that the scale of illegal immigration is also certainly not pre-determined, as the level of resources and effort devoted to controlling it reflects each administration's goals and policy choices.

It also cited the surge of aliens waiting at the U.S. borders. According to reports, from January 2021 to October, there have been about eight million "encounters" at the borders, which hit a record high for 34 months. Court records and other information on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) websites also indicated that about 2.7 million inadmissible aliens have been released into the country since the start of the Biden administration. In addition, the number of "gotaways" more than doubled to 391,000 in 2021 compared to 2019 before the pandemic. DHS has not updated this number but its Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters in May 2023 that there have been 1.5 million got-aways in FY 2021 and 2022. (Related: America sees 550% increase in illegal immigrants coming in from Canada.)

"The huge increase in border encounters and gotaways seems closely related to the president's campaign promises that created the accurate perception, well before he even took office, that he would curtail immigration enforcement," CIS further wrote. "Ending the Migrant Protection Protocols for many asylum seekers, the scaling back of Title 42, and then the decision to end it all together also helped increase illegal immigration."

One more factor that has played a role in encouraging illegal immigration is the dramatic decline in interior enforcement. In the first two years of the Biden administration, removals from within the country by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were less than half what they were in prior years. In FY 2020, 186,000 aliens were removed. This fell to 59,000 in FY 2021 and increased only slightly to 72,000 in FY 2022. The administration has also refused to take custody of non-citizens released from jails and prisons in some cases.

Furthermore, a significant number of new illegal immigrants and perhaps a majority before the current border surge, were admitted legally on a temporary visa or under the visa waiver program and then did not leave the country when the time limit expired. DHS for FY 2022 showed 850,000 foreign visitors overstayed their authorized stay in that year. Also, the number of legal permanent residents arriving from abroad fell significantly during the pandemic era, but it has already rebounded since, with 105,000 green card holders by the fourth quarter of 2021 from only 23,000 during the first quarter.

Visit InvasionUSA.news to learn more about immigration in the United States, be it legal or illegal.

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