Unauthorized Aliens Residing in the United States: Estimates Since 1986 [Updated February 28, 2008]   [open pdf - 97KB]

"Estimates derived from the March Supplement of the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey indicate that the unauthorized resident alien population (commonly referred to as illegal aliens) has risen from 3.2 million in 1986 to 11.1 million in 2005. The estimated number of unauthorized aliens had dropped to 1.9 million in 1988 following passage of a 1986 law that legalized several million unauthorized aliens. About two-thirds of the unauthorized population in 2005 were estimated to have entered the United States in the past decade. Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) reported an estimated 11.6 million unauthorized alien residents as of January 2006, up from 8.5 million in January 2000. The OIS based its estimates on estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The OIS estimated that the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States increased by 37%, with an annual average increase of 515,000 unauthorized aliens over the past six years. Research suggests that various factors have contributed to the increase in unauthorized resident aliens in recent years, and that the rise is often attributed to the 'push-pull' of prosperity-fueled job opportunities in the United States in contrast to limited or nonexistent job opportunities in the sending countries. Some observers maintain that lax enforcement of employer sanctions for hiring unauthorized aliens has facilitated this 'push-pull,' but it is difficult to demonstrate this element empirically."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33874
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Via E-mail
Media Type:
Help with citations