After a temporary downturn at the early height of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. immigrant population has surged to a record high. That is according to a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data on the foreign-born population---both legal and illegal. The analysis finds the total estimated number of foreign-born people in the U.S. reached 46.2 million in November 2021, the highest number on record. The report also shows that immigrants now make up 14.2 percent of the total U.S. population, the highest share in 111 years. "We've never had this many immigrants in the United States, and as a share of the population, in the next few years we're going to blow through the previous record," says Steven Camarota with CIS, who co-authored the report.
The rise to a record high comes even after the number of immigrants in the U.S. declined by more than one million between April 2020 and September 2020, due to restrictions in place during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. But it wasn't only the easing of pandemic restrictions that led to the rapid increase in immigrants. The end of 2020 brought the election of Joe Biden and his open border policies and promises of amnesty. "With Biden's election, the numbers exploded," says Camarota. "If you look at October of last year and compare it to November of this year, the number of immigrants in the United States actually increased by two million."
Conversely, the report finds that in the first year after Donald Trump's election in 2016, the total U.S. immigrant population declined slightly. "That does suggest that the policies and public statements of different administrations do affect the level of immigration," says Camarota.
The long-term repercussions of a growing foreign-born population are complicated and largely unknown, but Camerota says this is something the nation will have to deal with, one way or another. "The big question these numbers raise is, what is the absorption capacity of the United States, of its schools, of its hospitals, of its public infrastructure," he tells KTRH. "How many people can we assimilate?"
"That is for the American people to decide."