Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

How many immigrants are there?
Why limit immigration?
What should U.S. immigration policy be?
Where do we go from here?

Immigration Enforcement Questions

Does the Obama administration hold the record for highest number of deportations?
Why does it appear that ICE deportations are up?
Are criminal aliens being deported at record numbers?
How many illegal aliens remain in the country in violation of a court order?

Health Care Questions

Does Obamacare treat illegal aliens better than native-born Americans?


Answers

General

How many immigrants are there? The Center publishes a statistical profile of the immigrant population, which is based on Census Bureau data but offers a much wider variety of information than is otherwise available to the public. Included are detailed statistics on country of origin, educational attainment, poverty, welfare use, occupation, self-employment, home ownership, language skills, illegal status, and state-level data. Director of Research Steven Camarota has published on other topics, such as current unemployment rates in much greater detail than is reported in the press, summer youth employment, the effects of immigration on the potential electorate, and more.

Why limit immigration? Mass immigration, even if entirely legal, is incompatible with the goals and characteristics of a modern society. Today's immigrants are very similar to those of a century ago, but they are coming to a very different country. We now have a post-industrial, knowledge-based economy with an extensive taxpayer-funded system of education and social provision for the poor. What's more, air travel and the internet make assimilation and security far more complicated than in the age of steamships and hand-written mail. These themes are explored by the Center's Executive Director, Mark Krikorian, is his book, The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal.

What should U.S. immigration policy be? Immigration policy should serve the broad national interest rather than the parochial interests of specific groups, as is the case today. The outline of such a policy would be as follows: The unlimited admission of bona fide spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, but no other family categories; skilled immigration limited to the most outstanding talents on the planet; and humanitarian immigration (refugees and asylum) only for our share of the most desperate refugees who literally have nowhere else to go. This would result in a total immigration flow perhaps half of today's 1.1 million per year. For some more detail, see Mark Krikorian's essay in "Blueprints for an Ideal Legal Immigration Policy".

Where do we go from here? With 12 million illegal aliens residing in the U.S. and annual legal permanent admissions of 1.1 million, we are a long way from where we need to be. A realistic roadmap would start with full implementation of the enforcement tools needed to ensure we don't permit the arrival of another 12 million illegal aliens. Once these systems had proven their efficacy and brought about some attrition in the illegal population, then a possible bargain could be struck that offered amnesty to remaining long-established, non-violent illegal aliens in exchange for a permanent reduction in legal immigration of the kind sketched above. Mark Krikorian has outlined such an approach here.

Interior Enforcement and Deportations

Does the Obama administration hold the record for highest number of deportations? No. According to the DHS the Obama administration has the lowest number of deportations and lowest average annual number of deportations since 1973. The number of deportations resulting from interior enforcement by ICE declined by more than 35% since 2009, 19 percent from 2011 to 2012, and declined another 20 percent in 2013. On March 11, 2014, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson acknowledged in testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee that the Obama administration numbers cannot be compared with previous administrations due to changes in how Border Patrol cases are handled.

Why does it appear that ICE deportations are up? The numbers are artificially juiced. More than half of the deportations are actually people caught by the Border Patrol trying to enter illegally, who are then transferred briefly to ICE custody, not resident illegal aliens torn from their families in the interior. Acting ICE Director John Sandweg recently admitted that ICE deported only 134,000 illegal aliens from the interior in 2013, out of a population estimated at 11.5 million.

Are criminal aliens being deported at record numbers? Criminal alien arrests declined by 11 percent from 2012 to 2013, despite the completion of the Secure Communities program, which generates more referrals of arrested aliens than in the past. ICE agents took a pass on hundreds of thousands of aliens who were arrested by local authorities.

How many illegal aliens remain in the country in violation of a court order? As of the end of July 2013 there were 872,000 aliens – nearly half of ICE’s total docket – who had been ordered removed but had not left the country.

Health Care

Does Obamacare treat illegal aliens better than native-born Americans? Uninsured illegal aliens do get preferential treatment; unlike citizens, they do not face any consequences for not obtaining health insurance. Such “nonexempt individual[s]” must “maintain minimum essential coverage” – that is, pay for government-approved insurance that could be more expensive and cover more services than the person wants – “or make a shared responsibility payment”, that is, pay a fine – or “tax” as the Supreme Court designated the fine. Yet illegals can still get “free” health care (i.e. paid for by taxpayers or private insurers, or written off as bad debt by providers) in emergencies.