The Trump administration appears to be working off a 2018 Yale-MIT study that pegs the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. at 22 million – twice what has previously been reported.
Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, raised eyebrows last week when citing the higher estimate, but said it was better than being blind to how big the crisis could be.
“For political purposes, open borders groups want to minimize the number of people in the country illegally,” says Ira Mehlman, spokesperson for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which has its own estimate of 14 million.
“The needle seems to have been stuck at 11 million for an awfully long time,” he says. “Just given what has been going on at the border these past few years, it is virtually impossible to think it has remained at 11 million.”
He says the number has turned into a political football in the amnesty debate. “We have a lot of things we need to figure out before we even consider moving forward on any kind of legalization.”