President Bush has returned to his illegal alien amnesty proposal—again. But how many illegals are we talking about?
The 2000 Census said 8.7 million. The Pew Hispanic Center, analyzing data from the Census Bureau's March 2004 population survey, bumped the total up to 10.3 million, adding that it was increasing by about 485,000 persons each year. Homeland Security has put the figure as high as 12 million. [Ridge rapped for immigration views, By Jerry Seper, Washington Times, December 11, 2003.]
Fact#1: No one knows how many illegal aliens are living in the U.S.
Fact #2: Anecdotal evidence suggests the official estimates are way too low
Illegal aliens are (surprise! surprise!) loath to fill out the questionnaires on which the Census Bureau bases its population figures. For Census and groups that use its figures, such as the cottage industry of illegal alien estimators at work inside the Beltway, undercounts are inevitable. Which is why the Census Bureau estimate has been repeatedly revised upward.
Measuring the size of the illegal alien population is more art than science, given the flaws in the official statistics. But compelling anecdotal evidence suggests the illegal alien population is far higher than most think. For example:
Another approach ignores Census data completely, focusing instead on the movement of illegals in and out of the country. This methodology builds on several pieces of information and assumptions:
Researcher Fred Elbel has connected all of the links in this chain. Using conservative assumptions at each juncture—i.e., one in four illegals apprehended, one-third of the others returning home or becoming legalized—Elbel concludes that the illegal alien population is increasing by an average of at least 2.2 million persons annually.
Let's err on the side of caution, and cut this figure in half—to 1.1 million. At that rate about 21 million illegals would have been added since the 1986 amnesty made everyone legal. This happens to be about what D.A. King estimated with a back-of-the envelope calculation last summer.
With the Bush Amnesty, America is being asked to buy a pig in a poke—and it's a bigger pig than Washington is letting on.