FAIR study: 14.5 million illegal aliens are living in America at a net cost to taxpayers of nearly $134 billion


According to a recent study by FAIR, or the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the estimated number of illegal aliens as of 2020 living in the United States is approximately 14.5 million, with a total cost to U.S. taxpayers now amounting to $133.7 billion.

FAIR describes itself on its website as a “non-partisan, public interest organization with a support base comprising nearly 50 private foundations and over 1.9 million diverse members and supporters.” 

The website also states that FAIR’s mission is to:

“examine immigration trends and effects, to educate the American people on the impacts of sustained high-volume immigration, and to discern, put forward, and advocate immigration policies that will best serve American environmental, societal, and economic interests today and into the future.”

On December 31, 2020, FAIR authors Spencer Raley, Madison McQueen, and Jason Pena published a study entitled “2020 Update: How Many Illegal Aliens Live in the United States?

In the study, the writers are careful to define “illegal alien” as: 

“anyone who:

  • Entered the United States without authorization, or 
  • Anyone who unlawfully remained in the United States once their authorized time of stay expired.”

The authors explain that such a definition is important because many entities make a “dishonest effort to portray [the illegal alien] population as smaller than it is in reality.”

They also assert that many entities and media outlets erroneously declare that “unaccompanied alien minors (UAMs), recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and/or those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) [are] lawfully present in the United States.”

2020 figures in the study show that an estimated 14.5 million illegal aliens meeting that definition live within the United States, which represents a slight increase over the 2019 estimate of 14.3 million.

Fiscal burden has likewise expanded. The cost of at least $133.7 billion through 2020 represents an increase of nearly $2 billion over the past year.

Previous years have shown a more rapid increase in illegal alien population, accompanied by a corresponding increase in the financial cost.

For example, between 2013 and 2016, the illegal alien population rose from approximately 11.5 million to approximately 12.5 million.  During the same time period, the fiscal burden increased from approximately $113 billion to approximately $116 billion.

Between 2016 and 2019, the estimated illegal alien population rose from 12.5 million to 14.3 million, and the total cost of illegal immigration increased from approximately $116 billion to approximately $133 billion.

The authors attribute the comparatively slower rise in illegal alien population between the 2019 and 2020 measurements to two primary causes.

First, the authors point to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on illegal immigration.  Stating that up to 60 percent of new illegal aliens are those who have overstayed visas, the authors point to President Trump’s “timely travel freeze” as an action that prevented many from overstaying their visas during the time of the pandemic.

Also with regards to coronavirus, the authors note, the decreased availability of jobs in the United States during the time of COVID meant that border traffic slowed “significantly.”

Second, the authors state that the implementation of Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) decreased the influx of illegal aliens by requiring asylum applicants to remain in their country of origin during processing of their cases, rather than disappearing in the United States before their hearings.

The study authors do admit that their illegal immigration numbers are an estimate, noting:

“In truth, we do not know exactly how many people cross the border unlawfully and evade immigration authorities. 

“We can only estimate these figures based on how many individuals U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) believe slip through their detection.”

The actual numbers could in fact be higher, as suggested by a 2018 study by two Yale professors and an MIT instructor who were, ironically, seeking to prove that there were far fewer illegal aliens in the United States than previously thought.  

Their findings instead indicated that in 2018, there were approximately 22.1 million illegal aliens living in the U.S.  A more conservative estimate still was reported as high as 16.7 million.

The FAIR study authors also identified factors that continue to encourage illegal immigration into the United States.

They are:

– increasing sanctuary jurisdictions that disallow local law enforcement from cooperating with federal authorities.

– use of illegal labor by corporations.

– “An increasing number of states and jurisdictions offering social welfare programs and other benefits to illegal aliens, including in-state tuition, driver’s licenses, and even COVID-19 relief funds.”

– large backlogs in immigration courts.

– “The promise of a wide-sweeping amnesty from the incoming administration.”

The authors then go on to point to Biden’s other plans for immigration, saying:

“President-elect Joe Biden pledges to dramatically decrease immigration enforcement, remove methods of deterrence, and offer amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. 

“Due to these promises, FAIR projects that the illegal alien population under a Biden administration will increase dramatically.”

Given the reported increases in fiscal burden that have accompanied increases in the illegal alien population over the past several years, it stands to reason that as the illegal alien population “increase[s] dramatically,” so will the financial burden to U.S. taxpayers under a Biden administration.

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Report: Biden immigration policy is the ‘most aggressive amnesty plan’ and will happen ‘immediately’


WASHINGTON, DC – President-elect Joe Biden plans to “immediately” introduce an expansive immigration reform bill during his first days in office.

The new legislation, currently being drafted by congressional Democrats and immigration rights advocates, will include a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

On Thursday, several policy advisers and three Latino Cabinet nominees met with immigration advocates to discuss the President-elect’s immigration plan and other policies.

Latino and advocacy groups were “floored” by the “aggressive agenda.” Hector Sanchez Barba, head of Mi Familia Vota called Biden’s plan “the most aggressive agenda that I have seen on immigration reform from day one – not only the legislative package but also executive orders.”

Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, told Politico that Biden’s team told meeting attendees that his plan includes an eight-year path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already inside the United States.

Garcia said Biden also plans to issue an executive order extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, for four years.

Garcia said he plans to push for a five-year time frame rather than the eight-year time frame proposed by the Biden administration.

Garcia was also disappointed that Biden seemed to be attempting to lower the expectations of immigration advocates by telling them that his promise of passing the immigration bill within 100 days of taking office may be delayed by the pending Senate impeachment trial.

Despite his disappointment, Garcia was pleased that Biden plans on taking fast action:

“I was pleasantly surprised that they were going to take quick action because we got the same promises from Obama, who got elected in ’08, and he totally failed.”

During his presidential campaign, Biden admitted he and former President Barack Obama failed to achieve a promised comprehensive immigration reform policy during their administration.

During a presidential debate during the campaign, Donald Trump was challenged on news reports of immigrant children being detained in cages while being separated from their parents. When asked about the policy, Trump went after Biden for creating the detention facilities:

“Who made the cages, Joe?”

Biden was forced to admit that the Obama Administration, for which he served as Vice President, “made a mistake.”

President-elect Biden’s plan also includes an increase in the annual refugee admissions cap to 125,000 compared to President Trump’s 15,000 limit.

His plan rescinds the 2018 asylum ban, the 2019 third-country transit ban, and the Migrant Protection Protocols of the Trump Administration, among other Republican policies blocking immigrants from relief avenues.

Biden has also promised to end the construction of the border wall, a hallmark of the Trump administration.

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Despite taking control of the House and Senate, the Biden administration may have a tough time passing the immigration reform bill. Republicans have long stood against a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and Democrats disagree on how to navigate through the legislative process.

Some Democrats believe a bill that encompasses too many reforms at once would be difficult to pass and think passing several smaller bills over time would be the best plan. others say the best way to pass real reform is to pass a large bill and fight it out in Congress.

Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) said passing several smaller bills is not an option:

“The administration has a very limited window of opportunity before House members begin running for reelection. Every day that passes is a day that the window shuts just an inch more…We’ve got to get it done in one fell swoop.”

Nikki Haley, the Republican politician who served as Governor of South Carolina before serving as President Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations from 2017 to 2018, attacked Biden’s immigration plan as an “insult” to legal immigrants:

“Biden’s immigration policies will create another border crisis that will undermine the rule of law, hurt American workers, and insult the legal immigrants who did the right thing.

“The amnesty bill would send a clear signal to people across the world: Come to America illegally & get rewarded for it.”

President-elect Biden’s easing of immigration laws has had an unintended consequence, as approximately 6,500 Hondurans have started caravanning toward the United States to attempt entry into the country.

Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico are coordinating security and public health measures to deter and contain unauthorized crossings of their territories. Biden’s promise of easing immigration policies has encouraged groups from these countries to travel to the United States during the early days of his administration.

Jose Luis Gonzalez, the coordinator of the Guatemala Red Jesuita con Migrantes, a non-governmental organization, explained that Biden’s policies and two hurricanes that flooded large swathes of Central America last month have pushed more people to travel north:

“There are going to be caravans, and in the coming weeks, it will increase. People are no longer scared of the coronavirus. They’re going hungry, they’ve lost everything, and some towns are still flooded.

“When there is a change in government in the U.S. or Mexico, caravans start to move because they are testing the waters to see how authorities respond. What they see is that the one who said he was going to build a wall and hated Latinos is on his way out.”

Most Americans want immigration to be restricted during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an IPSOS/NPR poll report released in August. according to the poll, 60% of Americans want the government to prevent legal immigrants from bringing their families to the United States.

On top of that, 58% want a ban on the entry of both foreign guest workers and asylum seekers.

The same poll found that 78% of Americans support temporarily closing the U.S. border with Mexico, and restricting border crossings to essential travel only. This position received bipartisan support with 83% of Republicans and 75% of Democrats agreeing.

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