Friday, November 21, 2014

Putting American Immigration Statistics into Perspective

With immigration policy front page news in the United States, it is an interesting exercise to examine the statistics regarding the enforcement actions taken by the Department of Homeland Security (and its precursors) against what they term as aliens.  Fortunately, the DHS provides a full database of their own enforcement actions.

Here is a graph showing the number of aliens apprehended during the fiscal years from 1925 to 2013:


In fiscal 2013, the number of aliens apprehended was the lowest going all the way back to 1973.  In fact, at 662,483, the number apprehended in 2013 was just over one-third of the 1,814,729 apprehended in the peak year of 2000.

Here is a chart showing the number of aliens apprehended between fiscal 2004 and 2013 and their region of origin:


In fiscal 2013, 629,886 of the aliens apprehended by DHS or 95.1 percent of the total came from North America.  This follows the trend of the past decade when the vast majority of aliens apprehended came from North America, a fact that is not overly surprising given the geographic proximity of the remainder of North and Central America.  If we look down through the data, we find that 424,978 or 64 percent of all aliens apprehended came from Mexico, the biggest supplier of aliens to the United States.  Guatemala at 73,208, Honduras at 64,157 and El Salvador at 51,226 take second, third and fourth place.

Here is a graph showing the number of aliens that were deemed inadmissible during the fiscal years from 2005 to 2013:


In fiscal 2013, the number of aliens that were deemed inadmissible was 204,108, up from 193,606 in fiscal 2012 but down from a high of 251,109 in fiscal 2005.

Here is a chart showing the number of aliens that were deemed inadmissible between fiscal 2005 and 2013 and their region of origin:


By far, North America supplies the most inadmissible aliens with 57 percent of the total.  This is followed by Asia with 30 percent of the total.  What is interesting to note is the growth in the number of Asian aliens that were deemed inadmissible since 2005 as shown on this graph:


In 2005, Asian aliens that were deemed inadmissible comprised only 9.7 percent of the total compared to the aforementioned 30 percent in 2013.

Drilling through the data, we find that in fiscal 2013 most North American inadmissible aliens came from Mexico at 56,267 or 27.6 percent of the total followed by Canada (now that's a shock!) at 29,387 or 14.4 percent of the total.  I wonder how many border shoppers are included?  Among Asian inadmissible aliens, we find that most came from the Philippines (23,389) followed by the People's Republic of China (13,552).

Here is a graph showing the number of aliens removed by fiscal year since 1892:


At 438,421, the number of aliens removed in fiscal 2013 hit a new record.  This is more than double the level in fiscal 2003.  You'll also note how the number of aliens removed has grown at a nearly exponential rate since the turn of the new millennium

Here is a graph showing the number of aliens returned by fiscal year since 1926:


We have to go all the way back to fiscal 1968 to find a level of returned aliens that is similar to the low level in fiscal 2013 which is down 89.4 percent from its peak of 1.676 million in fiscal 2000.

Lastly, let's look at the number of aliens removed by criminal status from fiscal 2004 to 2013:


Here is the percentage of aliens removed with a criminal status from fiscal 2004 to 2013:


The percentage of criminals removed dropped to a low of 29.3 percent in fiscal 2008 but grew rapidly to a high of 48.8 percent in fiscal 2011.  In fiscal 2013, 146,298 aliens with a criminal status were removed to Mexico or 46.5 percent of all Mexicans removed.  This is followed by 16,609 aliens with a criminal status that were removed to Honduras and 15, 365 aliens with a criminal status that were removed to Guatemala.


I hope that you learned something from these statistics.  While, on a personal level, I found some of them quite intuitive, some statistics came as a surprise, particularly in light of the current debate over immigration in Washington.