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Nearly 17 million illegal immigrants living in the US, 16% increase since 2021: analysis

FIRST ON FOX: A hawkish immigration group is estimating that there are nearly 17 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States — and that the number has increased by 16% since President Biden took office in early 2021.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which calls for lower overall levels of immigration, is publishing a new research report on the number of people living illegally in the U.S.

That report estimates that there are approximately 16.8 illegal immigrants in the U.S., up from 15.5 million in January 2022. Other groups have put the estimate in recent years at around 11 million, which is the most quoted number.

‘This estimate is also a 2.3 million increase from our end-of-2020 estimate, meaning the illegal alien population increased 16 percent nationwide during just the first two years of Joe Biden’s presidency,’ the report says.

The Biden administration has been dealing with a migrant crisis now into its third year. It abolished a number of Trump-era policies including border wall construction and the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and has interior ICE enforcement. Deportations plummeted, and Republicans have hammered the administration for expanding ‘catch-and-release’ policies that had largely ended under the Trump administration.

The administration has countered, arguing that it is rebuilding an asylum system that was destroyed under the prior administration, and more recently has touted tougher enforcement measures at the border alongside expanded legal pathways. 

There were more than 200,000 encounters at the southern border in May, bringing the overall total of encounters this fiscal year to over 1.6 million so far. The administration said that half of those 204,000 were encountered before the expiration of the Title 42 public health order — which allowed for the rapid expulsion of migrants due to COVID-19 — on May 11. 

FAIR’s analysis defines an illegal alien as ‘any alien who is present in the United States without legal status, like a valid visa or lawful permanent residence.’

That, therefore also includes those who are protected from deportation — including recipients of deferred enforced departure, Temporary Protected Status, and those who have been paroled into the U.S. — who are described in immigration law as ‘lawfully present’ despite a lack of legal status. The administration recently extended TPS for approximately 330,000 nationals from four countries.

FAIR acknowledges that accurately estimating the population of illegal immigrants can be murky and inexact, given the size and distribution of the population — and that many live at least partially in the shadows. Many typical estimates are based on Census Bureau data.

‘In truth, we do not know exactly how many people cross the border illegally and evade immigration authorities, nor can anyone accurately quantify overstays or gotaways. We can only estimate these figures based on changes in annual census data, along with how many individuals CBP and ICE believe slip through undetected,’ the report says.

FAIR uses Census data, applies an estimate that the population is being undercounted by approximately 30%, which it says is consistent with past estimates of nonresponse rates for illegal immigrants — and then uses increases in the measured foreign-born population ‘which contain a higher proportion of illegal immigrants than previous years due to inadequate border security and the expansion of dubious immigration parole programs.’

The report argues that the increase has been driven by relaxed border restrictions and a hiring boost post-COVID by U.S. companies as well as Biden policies that have increased ‘pull factors’ drawing migrants north, including the use of parole and greater use of Notices to Appear. It also cites restrictions placed on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that are currently being challenged by a lawsuit and have been blocked temporarily.

The Biden administration has faulted Republicans in Congress for the ongoing migrant crisis, and has argued that there is a need for a comprehensive immigration bill to fix what it says is a ‘broken’ system.
That legislation, first introduced in early 2021, has been rejected by Republicans specifically for the inclusion of a mass pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already in the country.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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