One of the primary campaign pledges that was offered by Donald Trump was to firm up border security. Through a promise to build a wall and improve Border Security numbers, amongst other ideas, the goal was to put a stop to illegal immigration in the United States.
The subject of illegal immigration often involves movement that occurs along the US-Mexico border, but not every illegal immigrant to the US is Mexican. Every country around the world deals with this subject at some level. Here are the illegal immigration statistics to consider, some of which may be quite surprising.
Statistics About Illegal Immigration
1. About 3.5% of the total US population consists of illegal immigrants, though the actual figure is difficult to determine. (The Week)
2. In the United States, about 820,000 of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants are considered to be “removable criminal aliens” by the Department of Homeland Security. This is about 7.5% of the total illegal immigrant population. (The Week)
3. 8.1 million illegal immigrants are either working right now or looking for work in the United States. Some are paid in cash under the table, but fake Social Security numbers are often used to secure jobs. This means about 50% of all illegal immigrants are paying income taxes in some form. (The Week)
4. In 2010, illegal immigrants in the United States contributed over $10 billion in local or state taxes. Another $13 billion was contributed to Social Security. (The Week)
5. The average illegal immigrant household costs taxpayers $14,387 per year, though various assumptions about personal conduct and behaviors must be used to reach this figure. (Heritage Foundation)
6. The total number of unauthorized immigrants remained unchanged from 2009-2014. The peak year for illegal immigrant populations in the US was 2007, when there were 12.2 million in the country. (Pew Research)
7. 5.2% of the labor force consists of illegal immigrants. They are most likely to be found in farming occupations (26%) or construction jobs (15%). (Pew Research)
8. In every industry, US-born workers outnumber unauthorized immigrants in terms of an available workforce or for those who are unemployed and seeking work. (Pew Research)
9. In 2014, Mexicans made up 52% of all unauthorized immigrants that were in the United States. There were 5.8 million in 2014, which is down from 6.4 million in 2009. (Pew Research)
10. The number of illegal immigrants from countries other than Mexico in the United States grew by 325,000 from 2009-2014. Populations went up most for unauthorized immigrants from Asia, Central America, and sub-Saharan Africa. (Pew Research)
11. In the last fiscal year, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) deported over 235,000 illegal immigrants. (The Week)
12. About 70% of the illegal immigrants that were deported from the US in the last fiscal year were caught within 100 miles of the border. (The Week)
13. For deportations that involve “interior removals,” or illegal immigrants that have been presumably living in the United States for several years, 91% of them involve an individual who had been convicted of at least one crime. (The Week)
14. The cost of removing every illegal immigrant in the United States would require an expense of up to $600 billion. There would be another $1 trillion reduction in the US economy because of the lack of labor. (The Week)
15. 76% of Americans say that undocumented immigrants are as honest and hardworking as any US Citizen. (Pew Research)
16. 51% of Americans say that the priority of the US government should be to find a path for legalization so that the illegal immigrants who are already here and contributing can be allowed to stay here. (CNN)
17. Just 11% of Americans say that the focus of the US Government should be on deporting all illegal immigrants. (CNN)
18. Six states account for 59% of the illegal immigrants that are in the United States: California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. (Pew Research)
19. Several states have seen increases in illegal immigration since 2009, including Washington, Louisiana, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. (Pew Research)
20. 2 out of 3 adults who are in the United States and living there illegally have been in the country for at least 10 years. In comparison, just 14% of unauthorized adults have lived in the US for fewer than 5 years. (Pew Research)
21. As of 2012, 1 in 4 illegal immigrants was living in California. (CNN)
22. In FY 2016, there were over 59,000 unaccompanied alien children that were apprehended during a border crossing. Children that are not accompanied by adults are referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. (CNN)
23. About 4% of the children who cross the US border illegally are deported back to their country of origin. Between 2012-2015, about 7,600 people who arrived as children were sent back home. (CBS News)
24. The US immigration court that oversees cases for immigration hearings that involve children has a backlog of nearly 475,00 cases. (CBS News)
25. Several countries around the world see illegal or irregular immigration rates that are similar to that of the US. In 2010, 3.49% of the population as there illegally. Spain has seen population numbers as high as 2.8% since 2005. Russia had the highest reported rate of illegal immigration as a percent of the population since 2000, with 8.8% of their population there illegally in 2006. (ProCon)
26. In 2015, about 51% of immigrants were women, which is a figure that has remained stable since 1980. (MPI)
27. The immigrant population in the United States was older than the US-born population. The average age of an immigrant is 43.9 years, while native-born US citizens have an average age of 36 years.
28. Thousands of Americans are also living in Mexico illegally. In the last year, about 1,000 US citizens were questions over irregularities regarding their immigration status. (BBC)
29. If Americans are found to be working without a permit or living in Mexico without permission, they face a fine that is equal to about $50. For Americans who lose their visas in Mexico or are asked to leave and do not, then they face a fine that is equal to $400. (BBC)
30. In comparison, the fee to apply for deferred action in the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) immigrant program in the United States is a cost of $465 that must be paid every two years. Paying the fee and submitting the application for DACA does not provide lawful status. (USCIS)
31. ICE utilizes three different enforcement priorities when it comes to illegal immigration. Priority 1 categories included national security interests, border security interests, street gangs, felonies, and aggravated felonies. Priority 2 categories include a conviction on 3+ misdemeanors, significant misdemeanors, significant visa abuse, or entry since January 2014. Priority 3 involves a removal order that was issued after January 2014. (DHS)
32. 98% of initial enforcement actions that involve illegal immigrants are classified within one of the three enforcement priority categories. (DHS)
33. 91% of illegal immigrants who are contacted by US law enforcement officials are classified within a Priority 1 category.
34. 99.7% of removals and returns were classified within one of the three priority categories, with 94% classified within a Priority 1 category. (DHS)
35. The majority of Priority 1 category engagements by law enforcement are classified under Priority 1B, which is border security. Anyone who is identified at or near the border while attempting or furthering unlawful entry it automatically given this priority status. (DHS)
36. About 0.5% of removals and returns involve an unknown priority classification in the United States. (DHS)
37. 72% of the intakes to ICE detention involved people who were identified at or near the border in FY 2016, which is slightly higher than the percentages that were published in 2015. (DHS)
38. 1% of the deportations that occur in the US are considered to be a “Federal Interest Deportation.” An immigration officer and/or attorney may pursue the removal of an illegal immigrant not identified in a priority category if, in the judgment of an ICE Field Office Director, the removal of that person would serve an important Federal interest. (DHS)
39. This means more than 2,000 people are deported from the United States each year because it is deemed to be in the best interest of the United States without any other reason given. (Pew Research, DHS)
40. About 1 in 7 people living in the United States were born in a different country. By comparison, 1 in 5 people living in Canada are foreign born. In Australia, it’s 3 in 10 people. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates have 88% of their population foreign-born. (Pew Research)
41. More than 3 million people who were born in the United States are now living in other countries. Some nations with much smaller populations, such as Poland and Syria, have higher levels of emigrant populations. About 1% of Americans who are born outside the US will stay outside the US. (Pew Research)
These illegal immigration statistics show that there is a legitimate concern about the US-Mexico corridor, which is the largest immigration corridor in the world – both legally and illegally. It isn’t the only corridor, however, and that must be taken into account when policies are being determined.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.