New Data: Illegal Population Up Two Million Under Biden

3.4 million increase in total foreign-born population

By Steven A. Camarota on November 7, 2022

Based on data released just 10 days ago by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that the total foreign-born (legal and illegal) population likely stood at 48.4 million in October of this year, by far the largest number in U.S. history. This means the foreign-born population has increased by 3.4 million since January 2021, the month President Biden took office. (The foreign-born population includes all persons who were not U.S. citizens at birth — naturalized citizens, green card holders, long-term temporary visitors, and illegal immigrants). Based on our prior research, we estimate that about two million of this increase is from illegal immigration.

The illegal immigrant population is almost certainly increasing faster now than at any time in U.S. history. This data is important because unlike border apprehension numbers, it measures the likely number of illegal immigrants actually living in the country, which is what will ultimately determine their impact on American society.

How We Know

  • The employment situation report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last Friday shows 45.9 million immigrants 16 and older (legal and illegal) living in the country in October.
  • Based on data from prior months, when all of the October data is released, it will show at least 2.5 million immigrants under the age of 16, for a total foreign-born population of 48.4 million — an increase of half a million since last month.
  • Month-to-month changes in the data are not necessarily meaningful because of sampling variability, but since January 2021, when President Biden took office, the total foreign-born population has grown by about 3.4 million, a very large and statistically significant increase.
  • Both the Census Bureau, which collects the data, and the BLS, which analyzes it, are clear that illegal immigrants are included in the household survey, officially known as the Current Population Survey (CPS).
  • Based on our prior analysis we estimate that about 60 percent or about two million of the increase in the foreign-born population is from illegal immigration since January 2021.
  • Looking at all foreign-born workers (legal and illegal), the number is up 2.1 million from October 2019, before Covid, to October 2022. There is no indication that there are “missing” immigrant workers, as some have suggested.
  • While a large share of the recent increase in the total foreign-born population is due to illegal immigration, those in the country legally still account for three-fourths of all foreign-born residents.