Some New Migration Numbers – and Some Comments Thereon

By David North on July 7, 2010

Some recently released Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) numbers reminded me that a huge chunk of the American population is the responsibility (in some manner) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Putting together some numbers which OIS records but does not assemble, we have the following:

Categories Estimate As of Source
Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) 12,600,000 Jan. 1, 2008

OIS estimate 2009
Unauthorized Immigrants 11,600,000
Jan. 1, 2008

OIS estimate 2009
Resident Non-immigrants 1,830,000
Fiscal Year 2008

OIS estimate 2010
Non-resident Non-immigrants 2,300,000 Typical day, 2004

OIS estimate 2006
Non-citizens total 28,330,000
Various dates
CIS total of the above
Estimated Total U.S. Population 303,598,000
July 1, 2008
U.S. Census

I calculate what might be called the DHS caseload, the 28.3 million, as 9.3 percent of the whole American population.

DHS has three different roles to play with regard to these populations. With the LPRs it will naturalize a large portion of them, and deport a tiny fraction convicted of crimes; with the illegal or, in their terms "unauthorized," immigrants, it should (but won't) deport them all save a few sorted out for different treatment by the courts; and with the two classes of nonimmigrants it should keep an eye on them to make sure that they leave when they should, again except a few who die while they are here. Some of the nonimmigrants will, of course, adjust to LPR status.

Resident nonimmigrants are those defined by DHS as being admitted for long periods of time but not permanently, such as foreign students, nonimmigrant workers, exchange visitors, and diplomats; Non-resident nonimmigrants (whose totals were estimated for 2004 but not for 2008) are tourists, business travelers, and other short-term visitors.

What inspired the calculations above was the recent publication of a useful paper entitled:
"Estimates of the Resident Nonimmigrant Population of the United States: 2008" by Bryan C. Baker of OIS. It and the other three OIS estimates noted above can be found at DHS's immigration statistics page.

These are large numbers, and stimulate several comments:

1. I have always known that DHS had millions of folks to worry about, but more than 28 million! Nearly one tenth the American population! That's a major responsibility.

2. Having worked with immigration statistics for decades, I was surprised to see that the nation has almost as many illegal immigrants as legal ones. I guess I should have known that. Frankly, the ratio of 11.6 million illegals to 12.6 million legals is depressing; it sounds like a situation in a Third World country, not in the world's leading democracy. (Citizens, including naturalized ones, are not covered by the OIS estimates, and are no longer the concern of DHS's immigration bureaucracy.)

3. Reading these numbers, in the light of watching USCIS carefully for the last few months, suggests that the total focus of USCIS is on this individual form, or that individual applicant, or that individual appeal, to the extent that the big picture of millions of arriving persons, and their impact on the rest of us, gets lost in the shuffle.

If numbers mean anything – and they do – the leaders of USCIS and the other immigration-management agencies need to step back from the daily grind to see what they, and our Congress, hath wrought.

Maybe the departments of DHS, Energy, Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, together with the Census Bureau, should be required to report, every couple of years, on what is happening to the U.S. population, and why, and what the rapidly swelling population is doing to the environment, to the (aging) infrastructure, and to the health and happiness of America as a whole.