US Foreign-Born Population Reaches Record High of Nearly 50 Million: Study

It’s the highest figure ever recorded in American history and also marks a 4.5 million increase since President Joe Biden took office.
US Foreign-Born Population Reaches Record High of Nearly 50 Million: Study
New citizens smile at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization ceremony at the New York Public Library in Manhattan, N.Y., on July 3, 2018. (Shannon Stapleton /Reuters)
Katabella Roberts
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The number of foreign-born individuals living in the United States topped nearly 50 million in October 2023, marking a new record high, according to a new report published Nov. 30.

Approximately 49.5 million individuals who were originally born in another country—including both legal and illegal immigrants—were living in the United States as of last month, making up roughly 15 percent of the population, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS).

That figure is the highest ever recorded in American history and also marks a 4.5 million increase since President Joe Biden took office, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

“As the debate rages over the ongoing border crisis, this finding is important because administrative numbers such as border encounters or even legal immigrant arrivals do not measure the actual size of the immigrant population, which is what ultimately determines immigration’s impact on the country,” the American think tank said.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, more than half of the 4.5 million increase in the foreign-born population residing in the United States since President Biden took office is likely due to illegal immigration.

“If adjusted for those missed by the survey, the increase would be larger,” the non-profit said.

Earlier this month, the Census Bureau published estimates projecting the foreign-born population would increase to 19.5 percent in 2100.

Noting that the projections are influenced by assumptions regarding international migration, the Census Bureau said that in a high-immigration scenario, those figures could rise to 24.4 percent, and in a low-immigration scenario, they could increase to 14.9 percent, meaning the number of foreign-born individuals living in the United States has already surpassed the lower end of those projections.

Possible ‘Implications’ for American Society

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that, if legal and illegal immigration were to continue at the current level, the total foreign-born population would reach nearly 59 million and 17.3 percent of the population by the end of President Biden’s second term in office in December 2028, should he be re-elected.

“Adding so many people to the country so fast may please employers and immigration advocacy groups, but any serious discussion of immigration policy has to grapple with these numbers and the implications they have for American society,” the think tank said.

The latest report comes as former President Donald Trump—who is currently leading polls in his party’s 2024 presidential nomination—has vowed to renew his crackdown on illegal immigration if he is reelected again.

President Trump made the comments earlier this month while visiting the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas after securing an endorsement from Gov. Greg Abbott.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and former President Donald Trump shake hands during a border security briefing in Weslaco, Texas, on June 30, 2021. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and former President Donald Trump shake hands during a border security briefing in Weslaco, Texas, on June 30, 2021. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Trump Vows to ‘Restore Law and Order’

During the visit, President Trump promised to “restore law and order” at the border and make Mr. Abbott’s job “much easier,” allowing him to “focus on other things” in the state.

While he stopped short of detailing the exact policies he would implement if he were to be elected, in recent months, President Trump has touted a visa ban on immigrants from Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen “or anywhere else that threatens our security.”

He has also pledged to implement such a ban on immigrants who support the terror group Hamas or its ideology.

Border security has become a major issue since President Trump left office, with border towns becoming overwhelmed with record numbers of illegal immigrants.

In response to the crisis, Mr. Abbott has bused thousands of migrants to so-called “sanctuary cities” such as New York and Chicago, where officials previously welcomed their arrivals but later called on the Biden administration to aid the influx of immigrants that stretched city budgets stretched and placed a significant burden on shelter systems.
On Wednesday, the Republican governor said he planned to bus another 70,000 migrants to sanctuary cities as part of efforts to relieve the burden on border towns.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr. Abbott said the state intends to transport more than 12,500 migrants to the District of Columbia, 25,000 to New York City, 20,000 to Chicago, 3,200 to Philadelphia, 7,400 to Denver, and over 1,000 to Los Angeles in order to provide “vital relief.”

“Texas will bus migrants to sanctuary cities until Biden secures the border,” the governor said.

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