Center for Immigration Studies
June 1, 2022
Increased two million since January 2021, driven largely by illegal immigratio
An analysis of the Census Bureau’s monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) shows that the total foreign-born population (legal and illegal) in the U.S. hit 47 million in April of 2022 — a record high in American history. The foreign-born population includes all persons who are not U.S. citizens at birth. The size and growth of the foreign-born population in the CPS are important because, unlike arrival figures for legal immigrants or border apprehensions, the CPS measures the total number of legal and illegal immigrants actually living in the country, which is what ultimately determines immigration’s impact on American society.
There is a good deal of variation month-to-month in the data, but the two million increase in the foreign-born population since President Biden took office last January is both large and statistically significant. The dramatic growth is also quite striking because for the foreign-born population to grow at all, new arrivals must exceed both emigration and deaths, as all births to immigrants in the U.S., by definition, add only to the native-born population.
- The 47 million foreign-born residents (legal and illegal) in the country in April of 2022 is the largest number ever recorded in any U.S. government survey or decennial census.
- The total foreign-born population (legal and illegal) increased by two million in the first 16 months of the Biden administration — January 2021 to April 2022 — twice as fast as the U.S.-born population grew.
- We preliminarily estimate that illegal immigrants accounted for two-thirds of the growth in the foreign-born population since January 2021 — 1.35 million.
- Taking a longer view, since 2000, the total foreign-born population has grown by 50 percent; it’s doubled since 1990, tripled since 1980, and quintupled since 1970.
- As a share of the total population, the foreign-born now account for 14.3 percent of the population, or one in seven U.S. residents — the highest percentage in 112 years. As recently as 1990 they were one in 13 U.S. residents.
- If present trends continue, the foreign-born share of the population will reach 14.9 percent of the U.S. population in September 2023, higher than at any time in the nation’s 246-year history.
- On average the foreign-born population has grown by 132,000 a month since President Biden took office, compared to 59,000 per month in Obama’s first term, 76,000 per month in Obama’s second term, and 42,000 per month under Trump before Covid-19 hit.
- While much of the recent increase in the total foreign-born population is due to illegal immigration, those in the country legally still account for three-fourths of all foreign-born residents.
- The states with the largest increase in the total foreign-born population from January 2021 to April 2022 are California (up 527,000), Florida (up 390,000), Pennsylvania (up 375,000), Michigan (up 247,000), Georgia (up 152,000), Arizona (up 148,000), New York (up 145,000), Tennessee (up 130,000), and South Carolina (up 128,000).
This analysis is based on the Current Population Survey (CPS), sometimes referred to as the “household survey”, collected each month by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We use the terms “immigrant” and “foreign-born” interchangeably in this report.1 The foreign-born or immigrant population in Census Bureau data includes all persons who were not U.S. citizens at birth — mainly naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, long-term temporary visitors, and illegal immigrants. The CPS shows a dramatic rebound in the foreign-born population after declining in the latter half of 2019 and then a dramatic fall-off in 2020 due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. While the CPS is a very large survey of about 130,000 individuals, the total foreign-born population in the monthly data still has a margin of error of about ±500,000 using a 90 percent confidence level. This means there is a good deal of fluctuation from month to month in the size of this population, making it necessary to compare longer periods of time when trying to determine trends.2
The Foreign-Born Population in the Last Decade..
Please see the entire report from CIS.org here.