August Migration Numbers Continue to Show Large, if Uneven, Reductions

By David North on October 20, 2020

We at CIS have been following nine different monthly migration measures to weigh the combined influence of the Covid-19 restrictions and the overall policies of the Trump administration. Newly obtained August data shows substantial reductions in the measured flows when compared to August 2019, and continues to show that the reductions are uneven, as before.

Legal border crossings from Mexico continue to be down by half from August 2019 data, while they have been reduced by more than 96 percent on the northern border. Meanwhile, H-2A farmworker visas from Mexico have been reduced by only about 3 percent from the prior August; five of the other six measures, including global immigrant and global nonimmigrant visa issuances have been reduced by 83 percent to 91 percent.

Impact of Trump Policy and Covid-19 on Select
Migration Measures, August 2019 and August
2020 (in ascending order of negative impact)

August 2019
August 2020
H-2A (Farmworker) Visas
Issued in Mexico
16,556 16,111 -2.70%
SW Border
50,684 46,864 -7.60%
Border Crossings from Mexico,
Five Largest Ports of Entry
8,938,786 4,291,898 -51.90%
Immigrant Visas, World-Wide* 38,090 6,108 -83.90%
Nonimmigrant Visas, World-Wide 742,011 94,416 -87.30%
Issuances of E-2 (Nonimmigrant Investor)
Visas in Canada, Great Britain, and Italy
887 110 -87.60%
K-1 (Fiancée) Visas Issued in Philippines,
Mexico, Vietnam
953 94 -90.10%
H-2B (Non-Ag, Unskilled) Visas Issued
in Mexico and Jamaica
672 62 -90.70%
Border Crossings from Canada, Five
Largest Ports of Entry
4,034,067 158,803 -96.10%

Sources: Various government databases, such as DHS, DOT, and State. When numbers
are shown for several countries, as with E-2, for example, they are for the largest
providers of migrants in that category.

* This number may appear to be misleading, as it would suggest 456,000 immigrants a
year; hundreds of thousands of new permanent resident aliens are not new arrivals,
but have adjusted status while in the U.S.

The July and August data show few apparent changes, with one exception. While there were only five E-2 (Treaty Investor) visas issued in Canada, Great Britain, and Italy in July 2020, that number jumped to 110 in August 2020; that change reflected decisions made by U.S. posts in those three nations. Still, the number of E-2 visas in those countries dropped 87.6 percent from last August to this August.

The author is grateful to CIS intern Jackson Koonce for his research assistance.