Sunny Report On Declining Illegal Population Leaves Out Some Key Facts

Rachel Stoltzfoos | Managing Editor, The Daily Caller News Foundation

The Washington Post touted a report this week that the illegal immigrant population is declining in the United States, ignoring a few key facts to posit the news as a game changer in the national immigration debate.

“With its release as voting nears in the 2016 presidential primaries, the 15-page document could impact the fiery debate over immigration unfolding on the campaign trail,” reported The Washington Post, referring to a report from the Center for Migration Studies released Wednesday.

What neither CMS nor The Washington Post mentions is that President Barack Obama legalized about 800,000 illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, when he issued an executive order granting them legal status in 2012. That number alone is close to the size of the entire decline since 2008 quoted in the CMS report.

CMS notes the illegal immigrant population in the United States has fallen by more than a million since 2008 to just below 11 million, according to an analysis of census data. That’s in large part because of a decline in the illegal Mexican immigrant population by 600,000, the report concludes.

CMS does not attempt to enumerate specific reasons for the population decline, other than a decrease in Mexicans crossing the border illegally. The Washington Post also pointed to a decline in illegal Mexican immigrants as the cause, in addition to increased border security and changing demographics in Mexico.

But, in addition to leaving out mention of Obama’s single-handed contribution to the decline of the illegal immigrant population, the reports leave out several other key factors. Neither address what proportion of the illegal population is made up of new arrivals — how many older illegal immigrants died or returned home as more crossed the border?

Also left out in the reports is the explosion of the total foreign-born population of the United States, fueled in part by chain migration and the issuance of a million green cards a year to new immigrants. Illegal immigrants who have children in the United States can use their child to bring additional family members into the country legally, and those who obtain green cards can similarly petition to bring in relatives.

CMS and The Washington Post do acknowledge the surge in illegal immigration from Central America, which is counteracting the reported decline in illegal immigration from Mexico. The Central American population of illegal immigrants grew by about five percent since 2008, offsetting a nine percent decline in the Mexican population of illegal immigrants.

Given the crisis at the southern border regarding this new surge of illegal immigrants from Central America, The Washington Post’s mention of greater border security as a reason for a decline in illegal immigration is dubious. In addition, DHS reported this week that half a million foreigners overstayed their visa in just one visa category in 2015 alone, lending credence to estimates the total overstay population is between 4 and 6 million people.(RELATED: DHS Official Acknowledges GAPING Hole In US Border At Senate Hearing)

In the past year, 1.7 million legal and illegal immigrants joined U.S. ranks, and that foreign-born population is now 13 percent of the U.S. population — the largest share in more than a hundred years. (RELATED: 5 Signs The Exploding Immigrant Population Is Hurting US Workers)

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