President Joe Biden's decision to reverse as many of his predecessor's immigration policies as he can has led to more than a 10% surge in illegal immigration, according to a new review of federal data.
A dramatic increase in the number of foreign-born persons in the United States is largely driven by illegal immigrants, the Center for Immigration Studies finds in a new report. Based on data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CIS estimates there were 10.22 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. in January 2021. By April 2022, the illegal immigrant population is estimated to have grown to 11.6 million.
"This means that illegal immigrants accounted for some 1.35 million (about two-thirds) of the two million growth in the total foreign-born population since President Biden took office," the CIS report said. "This growth is extraordinary because for the illegal immigrant population to grow, new arrivals do not simply have to exceed deaths and emigration, as is true for the total foreign-born, they also have to exceed legalizations, which are substantial every year. This means that the number of new illegal immigrants who settled in the country in the last 16 months must be a good deal larger than 1.35 million."
There are now 47 million foreign-born persons living in the U.S. as of April 2022, the most ever recorded in any U.S. government survey or census. The percentage of foreign-born persons as a share of the total U.S. population is at a 112-year high, CIS said.
The group blamed Biden's campaign promises to undo former President Donald Trump's restrictive border policies — including halting wall construction and reinstating catch-and-release policies — for creating a perception that he would relax immigration enforcement. Republicans have accused Biden of incentivizing illegal immigration by rolling back Trump's policies.
"The administration’s decision to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (also called Remain in Mexico) for many asylum applicants, the scaling back of Title 42 expulsions, and more recently the decision to end it altogether, coupled with the release of some three-quarters of a million illegal immigrants encountered at the border as well as 146,000 unaccompanied minors, almost certainly has encouraged even more illegal immigrants to arrive at the southern border in the hope they, too, will be released into the country," the CIS said.
"The administration’s suspension of nearly all interior deportations and the resulting dramatic decline in immigration enforcement, including deportations, plus its refusal to automatically take custody of non-citizens released from jails and prisons have all likely made illegal immigrants feel safer, reducing emigration of those already here and encouraging new illegal immigration," the report stated.
The Biden administration says that increased levels of illegal immigration stem from so-called push factors in South and Central America that are causing migrants to travel to the U.S. in search of jobs, higher wages, and a better life.
"The U.S. Border Patrol already is managing numbers at historic levels due to large movements of people fleeing violence, corruption, poverty, climate change, and other hardships. And numbers could rise further from confusion over recent court orders and as smugglers continue to peddle misinformation to make a profit," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said recently.