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CPRC February 21, 1997

CA Policy Seminar Immigration Panel

 

Illegal Immigrants in California

 

Bob Warren

Friday, February 21, 1997

Five Million Illegals

Methodology

State-by-State Estimates

 

Bob Warren, senior INS statistician, on February 21, 1997 discussed his estimate that there were 5 million unauthorized aliens in the US in October 1996, and that their number was increasing by 275,000 per year. Some two million or 40 percent of the unauthorized foreigners are in California, making about one in 16 California residents an unauthorized foreigner.

 

For the past 15 years, California included 40 to 50 percent of the estimated illegal alien residents of the US.

Five Million Illegals

The INS on February 7, 1997 released new estimates of the population of resident illegal aliens, estimating that there were five million unauthorized foreigners living in the US in October 1996, up from 3.9 million in October 1992, and that their number is increasing by 275,000 per year. This suggests that about two percent of all US residents are unauthorized migrants and that the number of illegal alien residents is at or near its peak mid-1980s levels, before 2.7 million illegal aliens received legal status.

Some two million of the unauthorized foreigners were thought to be in California (40 percent), followed by 700,000 in Texas (14 percent), 540,000 in New York (11 percent), 350,000 in Florida (seven percent), 290,000 in Illinois (six percent), and 135,000 in New Jersey (three percent). About six percent of California residents are illegal aliens and four percent of Texas' residents are undocumented foreigners.

About 54 percent of the five million illegal aliens in the US are Mexicans, followed by seven percent from El Salvador and three percent from Guatemala.

Warren estimates that about 60 percent of the illegal aliens in the US entered without inspection, about 150,000 per year, and 40 percent entered the country legally at airports and other entry points but overstayed their temporary visas, about 125,000 per year. Most illegal aliens in California entered without inspection; most in New York entered legally and overstayed. Overstayers tend to have more education and higher incomes.

On the other hand, California had 55 percent of the applicants for legalization, suggesting that IRCA was relatively more successful in legalizing persons who entered the US without inspection. The discrepancy between California's higher share of legalization applicants and its lower share of the estimated total unauthorized resident population may have implications for federal cost of illegal alien reimbursement programs.

The 5 million estimate refers to illegal alien residents, defined as persons unlawfully residing in the US for 12 months or more. There are an unknown number of additional seasonal or sojourner migrants--perhaps 500,000 to 1.5 million, mostly from Mexico, who are in the US part of each year.

There are about seven million Mexican-born persons living in the US in early 1997, including about four million Mexican legal immigrants, two million unauthorized Mexican immigrants and one million Mexican-born persons who have become naturalized US citizens.

Methodology

On February 7, 1997, the INS estimated that there were five million illegal aliens in the US in October 1996, up from 3.9 million in October 1992 (the previous estimate for October 1992 was 3.4 million). The five million estimate has a margin of error of plus or minus 400,000.

The INS estimates of resident or settled illegal aliens are based on three estimates of the stock of illegals in the US: one for October 1988, another for October 1992 and the third for October 1996. The October 1988 estimate is derived from the following calculation:

October 1988 illegal aliens: 2,775,000 = 882,000 +1,124,000 -251,000 + 1,690,000 - 670,000

The 2,775,000 illegal aliens in the US in October 1988 were the sum of 882,000 illegal alien residents who entered the US before 1982, plus 1,124,000 aliens who overstayed visas between 1982 and 1988, minus 251,000 of these overstayers who were legalized under the SAW program, plus a net 1,690,000 entries without inspection who settled in the US between 1982 and 1988, minus 670,000 EWIs who were legalized under the SAW program.

The construction of equations for 1992 and 1996 is the same:

October 1992: 3,900,000 = 2,775,000 (beginning stock) +682,000 (net overstayers) +968,000 (net EWIs) -46,000 (deaths) - 479,000 (emigration)

October 1996: 5,000,000 =3,900,000 (beginning stock) +725,000 (net overstayers) +964,000 (net EWIs) -63,000 (deaths) -525,000 (emigration).

The major countries of citizenship for unauthorized US residents in October 1996 and October 1992 are below:

All countries, 5 million, 33.9 million; Mexico, 2.7 million, 2.1 million, El Salvador, 335,000, 290, 000, Guatemala, 165,000, 115,000, Haiti, 105,000, 80,000, Philippines, 95,000, 95,000, Honduras, 90,000, 55,000, Poland, 70,000, 75,000, Nicaragua, 70,000, 60,000, Colombia, 65,000, 55,000.

 

State-by-State Estimates

Below are the October 1996 and October 1992 estimates of the number of illegal aliens in each state:

 

Alabama 4,000 3,200 Alaska 3,700 2,400 Arizona 115,000 95,000 Arkansas 5,400 4,400 California 2,000,000 1,600,000 Colorado 45,000 35,000 Connecticut

29,000 22,000 Delaware 2,500 2,000 D.C. 30,000 21,000 Florida 350,000 270,000 Georgia 32,000 26,000 Hawaii 9,000 6,400 Idaho 16,000 12,000 Illinois 290,000 220,000 Indiana 14,000 11,000 Iowa 6,400 5,000 Kansas 20,000 15,000 Kentucky 6,000 4,600 Louisiana 22,000 18,000 Maine 3,300 2,200 Maryland 44,000 33,000 Massachusetts 85,000 65,000 Michigan 37,000 28,000 Minnesota 7,200 5,800 Mississippi 3,700 2,800 Missouri 16,000 12,000 Montana 1,200 1,100 Nebraska 7,600 5,800 Nevada 24,000 19,000 New Hampshire 2,000 1,500 New Jersey 135,000 105,000 New Mexico 37,000 29,000 New York 540,000 410,000 N. Carolina 22,000 20,000 N. Dakota 800 600 Ohio 23,000 18,000 Oklahoma 21,000 17,000 Oregon 33,000 27,000 Pennsylvania 37,000 27,000 Rhode Island 12,000 9,000 S. Carolina 4,800 4,100 S. Dakota 800 600 Tennessee 13,000 9,500 Texas 700,000 530,000 Utah 15,000 13,000 Vermont 2,700 2,400 Virginia 55,000 42,000 Washington 52,000 42,000 W. Virginia 2,000 1,600 Wisconsin 7,700 6,100 Wyoming 1,700 1,400 Guam 6,500 4,100 Puerto Rico 34,000 21,000 Virgin Islands 11,000 8,100 Unknown 2,000 2,300