- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

More than 8 million people at least a million more than previously thought now live in the nation illegally, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reports.
The center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, bases its conclusion on an analysis of figures in Census Bureau documents.
"I find the figures on illegal residents flabbergasting," said Steven Camarota, the think tank's research director. "The numbers indicate that some 400,000 to 500,000 persons were flowing into the country each year since 1990, and that shows the nation has lost control of its borders."
The new estimate came after disclosure that three of the terrorists in the Sept. 11 attacks were living in the United States illegally, and after the Immigration and Naturalization Service acknowledged that it had lost track of the other 16 hijackers after they entered the country.
The 8 million figure also adds cogency to Congress' push to tighten border controls.
The extent of the border violations helped explain why Tom Ridge, director of the new Office of Homeland Security, last week told reporters that solving border-control problems was one of the important issues he faced.
As a statement from the CIS notes, "the huge number of illegal aliens living in the country also has significant implications for public services as well as for the job prospects of low-wage Americans in the current economic downturn."
Figures in the Census Bureau document reveal that the nation harbors 31.1 million foreign-born people.
The number includes legal and most illegal residents and represents a 57 percent increase in the immigrant population within a decade. In 1990, 19.8 million immigrants lived in the United States.
"No nation in history has ever attempted to incorporate and assimilate 31 million newcomers into its society. And the experiment is by no means over," Mr. Camarota said. "If policy remains unchanged, at least 13 million legal and illegal immigrants will likely settle in the United States over the next 10 years."
The Census Bureau's immigration figures were not based on questions directly asked in the census. Kevin Deardorff, chief of the bureau's Ethnic and Hispanic Branch, explains:
"We got information from the INS about the number of legal immigrants who had come to the United States. Making some assumptions about people who fit into the various visa categories the number of temporary visas and the like we subtracted the number of legal immigrants from the total and came up with 8.7 [million] who were not temporary visitors and were not legal."
Mr. Deardorff said not all of the 8.7 million are "unauthorized." Some are in a quasi-legal status, waiting to have immigration cases adjudicated. Still, he said, the numbers from the CIS look right.
The immigration data were produced as part of the bureau's argument for withholding its adjusted census 2000 numbers.
That decision came after intense study of the method used to calculate and correct for errors in the 2000 census.


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