Estimate of Illegal Immigrant Population Rises

By Staff writers, National Center for Policy Analysis, October 25, 2001

New figures from the 2000 Census say there are a significantly larger number of illegal aliens or immigrants in the United States than previously estimated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

  • As recently as last year, the INS estimated that the illegal population was 3.5 million in 1990 and 5.1 million as of January 1997.

  • But the number of illegal immigrants in the United States is at least 7 million and possibly as high as 8 million, according to Census Bureau figures.

  • A net increase of this size implies that the total flow of new illegals entering each year must be more than 700,000, says the Center for Immigration Studies, because the INS estimates that several hundred thousand illegals return home each year or receive legal status as part of the normal "legal" immigration process.

  • On average, the net increase had to be 400,000 to 500,000 per year during the 1990s, says CIS.

CIS says the Census Bureau's estimates clearly demonstrate that amnesties don't solve the problem of illegal immigration. Although 2.7 million of the estimated 5 million illegal aliens living in the country in 1986 were given amnesty (legal permanent residence), the new estimates indicate that they have been entirely replaced by new illegal aliens and that by last year the illegal population was 3 million larger than before the last amnesty.

Source: D'Vera Cohn, "New Census Information Reveals Larger Than Expected Number Of Illegal Immigrants," Washington Post, October 25, 2001; Statement, "Census Bureau Finding of 8 Million Illegal Aliens in 2000 Raises Concern over Border Control in Light of Terrorist Threat," Center for Immigration Studies, October 24, 2001.

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