The U.S. has added more than 2 million immigrants to its population since President Biden took office in 2021, the vast majority of them here illegally, according to a new report Wednesday that says most of the newcomers are arriving illegally.
The surge is so overwhelming that it’s pushed up the projected point at which the U.S. will have its largest-ever share of immigrants, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
At the current pace of growth, 14.9% of residents will be immigrants as of sometime next year, topping the record set around the turn of the 20th century. That’s half a decade earlier than the Census Bureau’s last calculation, said Steven A. Camarota, the center’s director of research and the lead author of the new report.
“I’ve been at this a long time, when people used to say we’re never going to come up to that level. It looks like we’re going to blow past it some time next year,” Mr. Camarota told The Washington Times.
Immigrants made up 14.8% of the U.S. population in 1890, and 14.7% in 1910, before beginning a decline. In 1970 they bottomed out at less than 5%, and as recently as 1990 still only comprised 7.9%. As of April, it stood at 14.3%, Mr. Camarota calculates.
His findings come as the country is embroiled in a debate over what’s known as “The Great Replacement Theory,” a belief that foreign-born arrivals are crowding out native-born.
The theory has been used by extremists to justify several recent mass shootings. However, a more mainstream view held by a significant portion of Americans is that the newcomers are being welcomed by one party for political advantage. Still, other Americans fear the growing risk of a clash of cultures.
Mr. Camarota uses the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, conducted monthly, to reach his calculations.
He said there were 47 million foreign-born residents in April, up 2 million compared to January 2021, or just 16 months before. That’s the fastest rate of growth ever found in the CPS, which has asked about the foreign-born dating back to 1994.
Immigrants in the country illegally made up about 1.35 million of the new arrivals, the center figures.
That tracks with the situation at the southern border, where the Biden administration has vastly expanded the use of catch-and-release of immigrants without documentation, with more than 100,000 being set free in the country each month.
That accounts for most of the increase Mr. Camarota sees.
He said the foreign-born population has grown on average by 132,000 a month since Mr. Biden took office, compared to 59,000 per month in President Obama’s first term, 76,000 per month in Mr. Obama’s second term, and 42,000 per month under President Trump before COVID-19 hit, sending numbers plummeting.
About three-quarters of the foreign-born population are here legally.
The rapid growth of immigrants is in some ways a rebound from COVID, the center said, when restrictions on new arrivals tamped down on legal immigration.
COVID-19 has also played other roles in the demographics.
Falling birth rates and rising death rates have meant the native-born population hasn’t been growing as quickly as the Census Bureau had projected, which helps explain Mr. Camarota’s calculation that the U.S. could set a new record for ratio of foreign-born sometime next year.
He said there are all sorts of implications to those numbers, including the country’s ability to assimilate newcomers, and the upsides and downsides associated with them.
“Whatever you think are the costs or benefits of immigration, they scale with the level of immigration, and the level of immigration is way up,” he said. “This is a policy choice. It’s not the weather. it’s not something we have no control over. The question is, is it a good choice? That’s up to the public to decide.”