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Illegal Population Stops Declining Under Obama

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2012 – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will soon release its new estimate of the illegal immigrant population in the United States as ofJanuary 1, 2011. (All DHS estimates are for January 1.) Based on a preliminary analysis of some of the same data DHS uses, the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that 10.9 million (+/- 200,000) illegal immigrants lived in the United States on January 1, 2011. If this estimate turns out to be similar to the DHS estimate, it means that the illegal immigrant population stopped declining after President Obama took office after declining by 1 million during the last two years of the Bush administration – 2007 to 2009.

  • DHS estimated that the number of illegal immigrants declined by 1 million during the last two years of the Bush administration, from 11.8 million in 2007 to 10.8 million in 2009. The decline was caused by a combination of a weak economy and stepped-up enforcement.
  • Based on data collected by the Census Bureau, the Center for Immigration Studies estimates an illegal population of 10.9 million (+/- 200,000) at the start of 2011, which is very similar to DHS estimates of 10.8 million for both January 1, 2009 and 2010.
  • In contrast, DHS estimates the illegal immigrant population declined by 180,000 from 2007 to 2008 and declined a further 850,000 from 2008 to 2009.
  • Our new estimate of the illegal immigrant population, if correct, means that the Obama administration has failed to significantly reduce the illegal immigrant population.
  • Among the things the administration has done to curtail or undermine enforcement efforts are:
    • The president has repeatedly promised to legalize illegal immigrants rather than to enforce the law and encourage those in the country illegally to return home.
    • The administration developed a policy of “prosecutorial discretion” over the last two years that allows most illegal immigrants without a criminal record to remain in the country.
    • The administration has challenged virtually every state effort designed to promote enforcement of federal immigration law.
    • Although Congress has allowed money for more fencing and border control, the Government Accountability Office concluded in 2011 that the Border Patrol has “operational control” of only 44 percent of the border, only 15 percent of which is under “full control.”
    • The administration has suspended worksite enforcement operations in favor of only auditing employer records, resulting in few fines – mainly warnings.
  • The failure of the administration to continue to reduce the illegal population means that 7 to 8 million illegal immigrants continue to hold jobs in the United States at a time when unemployment remains at record levels for the young and least-educated native-born population.

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