A lot of statistics get thrown around in the national debate over immigration, some of them inaccurate and others only half-true. For example, population control groups who believe in tight restrictions on all immigration to the U.S. (lawful or unlawful) tend to report the costs related to immigration without offering the benefits. Forwarded emails often contain demographic claims that are entirely spurious.
As Christians, we need to be careful not to spread false information the maligns the character of others--even unintentionally--lest we fall into the sin of slander. We've provided some numbers below, with links to their sources (all governmental or non-partisan organizations), to provide some accurate information from economists, demographers, and other researchers whose motivation is simply to discover the facts, not to prove a political point.
Immigration by the Numbers
38.5 million: number of immigrants living in the U.S. as of January 2010, representing 12.5% of total U.S. population
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, May 2011
11.5 million: number of undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S., as of January 2011
6.8 million: number of undocumented Mexicans, representing 59% of total undocumented population and 60% of all Mexican immigrants in the U.S.
270,000: number of undocumented Filipinos, representing about 1 out of every 6 Filipino immigrants in the U.S.
240,000: number of undocumented Indians, representing about 1 out of every 7 Indian immigrants in the U.S.
230,000: number of undocumented South Koreans, representing about 2 out of every 9 South Korean immigrants in the U.S.
280,000: number of undocumented Chinese immigrants, representing 1 out of every 6 Chinese immigrants in the U.S.
170,000: number of undocumented Vietnamese immigrants, representing 1 out of every 6 Vietnamese immigrants in the U.S.
56%: percentage of undocumented immigrants who entered U.S. prior to year 2000
85%: percentage of undocumented immigrants who entered prior to 2005
Sources: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, March 2012 for total foreign-born population from Philippines: Migration Policy Institute, 2010 for total foreign-born population from South Korea: Migration Policy Institute, 2010 for total foreign-born population from India: Migration Policy Institute, 2010 for total foreign-born population from China: Migration Policy Institute, 2010 for total foreign-born population from Vietnam: Migration Policy Institute, 2010 for total foreign-born population from Mexico: Migration Policy Institute, 2010
40% to 50%: percentage of undocumented immigrants entered with a valid visa, then overstayed or violated the terms of their visa
Source: Pew Hispanic Center, 2006
44 out of 46: number of economists surveyed that believe that illegal immigration has been good for the U.S. economy overall
$15 billion: estimated annual contributions to the Social Security system from undocumented immigrants, even though they are generally ineligible to receive any Social Security benefits
75%: percentage of undocumented immigrants are paying payroll taxes, including Social Security, Medicare, and income taxes
$11.2 billion: amount paid in taxes by households headed by undocumented immigrants in 2010 ($1.2 billion in income tax, $1.6 billion in property tax, and $8.4 billion in sales taxes; does not include Social Security or Medicare taxes)
$80,000: amount the average immigrant & his or her offspring will pay in taxes over the course of a lifetime beyond the cost of the governmental services & benefits they collect (but this net benefit is somewhat skewed because there is sometimes a net cost to local governments)
Source: Cato Institute, 2003
96%: labor participation for undocumented adult males
Source: Urban Institute, 2004
65%: percentage of Hispanic immigrants who believe that abortion should be illegal, compared to 40% of all non-Hispanic Americans
5,000: Number of permanent visas available per year for employer-sponsored immigrants other than those classified as highly-skilled
Source: Immigration Policy in Focus, 2005, explaining the Immigration & Nationality Act [particularly §201 and §203(b)(3)(B)] and the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act, Public Law 105-100, §202(e)(1)
5,000: Average number of immigrants—most of whom would be classified as “low-skilled” if they had the same classification system as we do today—who entered through Ellis Island in an average day; at its peak—on April 17, 1907—11,747 immigrants passed through Ellis Island in a single day
50% to 60%: percentage of the food Americans eat that was touched by immigrant hands
$7,500: average cost, as of 2010, to detain a single unauthorized border crosser on the Southern Border (overall expenditures divided by the number of apprehensions), up from $1,400 per apprehension in 2005 (as a result of increased expenditures on border security and fewer attempted entrants)
$166: average nightly expense per immigrant in detention to taxpayers, including guards' salaries and health care, which mostly goes to private corporations or local or county jails operating under contract with ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement); “alternatives to detention” such as a GPS-tracked ankle bracelet, can cost as little as $7 per day