Illegal Alien Population in the U.S. (2015)

11,000,000 – 12,000,000

A definitive count of the number of illegal aliens living in the United States is difficult to obtain. For obvious reasons, those who are in the country illegally are reluctant to come forward to be identified and counted. However, demographers have come up with ways to estimate the size of the illegal alien population. The Department of Homeland Security estimated that 11.4 million illegal aliens were living in the United States in 2012 (DHS, March 2013). Pew Research Center estimated that the illegal alien population in 2014 was 11.3 million (Pew, July 2015).

Robert Warren, a long-time demographer with the Census Bureau and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and John Robert Warren, a demographer with the Minnesota Population Center, devised a methodology for estimating the illegal alien population that better measured the net change in the annual illegal alien population, and examined the foreign-born population in smaller states more closely than had previous researchers. Their methodology would put the current illegal alien population close to 12 million (Warren & Warren, June 2013).

Under President Obama, DHS has claimed that deportations (officially “removals”) had reached an all-time high. These “record deportations” were achieved not by removing more illegal aliens from the country than under previous administrations, but by changing the way deportations were counted. Under President Obama, DHS began to add the number of illegal aliens apprehended and returned at the border to those removed from the interior of the country –something which had previously been done. Under Obama, the fewest number of illegal aliens have been removed from the country since President Gerald Ford (1974-1977).

It is true that since the Great Recession of 2007-2009, illegal immigration to the United States has slowed down from its peak around 2005. But this does not mean illegal immigration is still not a problem. According to estimates, the illegal alien population has remained statistically unchanged under President Obama, and may actually have begun to increase again (Pew, September 2013). Without a secure border and effective interior enforcement mechanisms in place, it is likely that an improved U.S. economy would attract many more illegal immigrants into the country.