Last updated on: 6/9/2020 | Author: ProCon.org

US Undocumented Immigrant Population Estimates

There were an estimated 10.5 million undocumented immigrants in the US in 2017 (the most current numbers), down from the 10.7 million estimated in 2016, continuing a downward trend that started in 2011. Explore undocumented immigrant population estimates and their relative percentage of the United States overall population.

20172016201520142013
20122011201020092008
20072006200520042003
20022001200019961992
1983198019741969pre-1970

2017

10,500,000 undocumented immigrants

3.2% of US population

US population: 325,923,198

“In 2017, there were 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. …The Center’s estimate of unauthorized immigrants includes 1.5 million or more people who have temporary permission to stay in the U.S. but could be subject to deportation by changes in government policy. In 2017, they included about 320,000 people from 10 nations with Temporary Protected Status, about 700,000 beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and a rising number of people who have applied for asylum and are awaiting a ruling… [T]the number of unauthorized immigrants shrank by 14% from 2007 to 2017.”

Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohen, “Mexicans Decline to Less Than Half the U.D. Unauthorized Immigrant Population for the First Time,” pewresearch.org, June 12, 2019


2016

10,700,000 undocumented immigrants

3.3% of the US population

US population: 324,304,407

“The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in more than a decade… due almost entirely to a sharp decrease in the number of Mexicans entering the country without authorization… There were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2016, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007, according to the new estimates. The total is the lowest since 2004.”

Pew Research Center, “U.S. Unauthorized Immigrant Total Dips to Lowest Level in a Decade,” pewhispanic.org, Nov. 27, 2018


2015

11,000,000 undocumented immigrants

3.4% of US population

US population: 322,060,152

“There were 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2015, a small but statistically significant decline from the Center’s estimate of 11.3 million for 2009… Unauthorized immigrants represented 3.4% of the total U.S. population in 2015. The number of unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.”

Pew Research Center, “Unauthorized Immigrant Population Stable for Half a Decade,” pewresearch.org, Apr. 27, 2017


2014

11,300,000 undocumented immigrants

3.5% of US population

US population: 318,857,056

“An estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the U.S. in 2014, according to a new preliminary Pew Research Center estimate based on government data. This population has remained essentially stable for five years after nearly two decades of changes.

The recent overall stability contrasts with past trends. The unauthorized immigrant population had risen rapidly during the 1990s and early 2000s, from an estimated 3.5 million in 1990 to a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. It then dropped sharply during the Great Recession of 2007-09, mainly because of a decrease in immigration from Mexico.”

Pew Research Center, “Unauthorized Immigrant Population Stable for Half a Decade,” pewresearch.org, July 22, 2015


2013

11,300,000 undocumented immigrants

3.6% of US population

US population: 316,128,839

“There were 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in March 2013, according to preliminary Pew Research Center estimate, about the same as the 11.2 million in 2012 and unchanged since 2009. The population had risen briskly for decades before plunging during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009.”

Pew Research Center, “As Growth Stalls, Unauthorized Population Becomes More Settled,” pewresearch.org, Sep. 3, 2014


2012

11,400,000 undocumented immigrants

3.6% of US population

US population: 313,914,040

“[A]n estimated 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States in January 2012 compared to 11.5 million in January 2011. These results suggest little to no change in the unauthorized immigrant population from 2011 to 2012.”

US Department of Homeland Security, “Estimate of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2012,” dhs.gov, Mar. 2012


2011

11,500,000 undocumented immigrants

3.7% of US population

US population: 311,914,816

“[A]n estimated 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States in January 2011 compared to a revised 2010 estimate of 11.6 million. These results suggest little to no change in the unauthorized immigrant population from 2010 to 2011. It is unlikely that the unauthorized immigrant population increased after 2007 given relatively high U.S. unemployment, improved economic conditions in Mexico, record low numbers of apprehensions of unauthorized immigrants at U.S. borders, and greater levels of border enforcement. Of all unauthorized immigrants living in the United States in 2011, 55 percent entered between 1995 and 2004. Entrants since 2005 accounted for only 14 percent of the total. Fifty-nine percent of unauthorized immigrants in 2011 were from Mexico.”

US Department of Homeland Security, “Estimates of the Unauthorized Population Residing in the United States: January 2011,” dhs.gov, Mar. 2012


2010

11,600,000 undocumented immigrants

3.8% of US population

US population: 308,747,508

“[A]n estimated 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States in January 2011 compared to a revised 2010 estimate of 11.6 million. These results suggest little to no change in the unauthorized immigrant population from 2010 to 2011.”

US Department of Homeland Security, “Estimates of the Unauthorized Population Residing in the United States: January 2011,” dhs.gov, Mar. 2012


2009

10,750,000 undocumented immigrants

3.5% of US population

US population: 307,006,550

“In summary, DHS estimates that the unauthorized immigrant population living in the United States decreased to 10.8 million in January 2009 from 11.6 million in January 2008. Between 2000 and 2009, the unauthorized population grew by 27 percent. Of all unauthorized immigrants living in the United States in 2009, 63 percent entered before 2000, and 62 percent were from Mexico.”

US Department of Homeland Security, “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2009,” dhs.gov, Jan. 2010


2008

11,600,000 undocumented immigrants

3.8% of US population

US population: 304,059,724

Jeffrey Passel and D’Vera Cohn, “Unauthorized Immigrants: 11.1 Million in 2011,” pewhispanic.org, Dec. 6, 2012


2007

11,780,000 undocumented immigrants

3.9% of US population

US population: 301,579,895

“In summary, an estimated 11.8 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States in January 2007 compared to 8.5 million in 2000 (Hoefer, Rytina, and Campbell, 2006). Between 2000 and 2007, the unauthorized population increased 3.3 million; the annual average increase during this period was 470,000. Nearly 4.2 million (35 percent) of the total 11.8 million unauthorized residents in 2007 had entered in 2000 or later. An estimated 7.0 million (59 percent) were from Mexico.”

US Department of Homeland Security, “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2007,” dhs.gov, Sep. 2008


2006

11,550,000 undocumented immigrants

3.9% of US population

US population: 298,362,973

“In summary, there were an estimated 11.6 million [Rounded from 11,550,000 by the Department of Homeland Security] unauthorized immigrants living in the United States as of January 2006.”

US Department of Homeland Security, “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2006,” dhs.gov, Aug. 2007


2005

10,500,000 undocumented immigrants

3.5% of US population

US population: 296,410,404

“There were an estimated 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants residing in the United States in January 2005.”

US Department of Homeland Security, “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2005,” dhs.gov, Aug. 2006


2004

9,300,000 undocumented immigrants

3.2% of US population

US population: 292,892,127

“Our best estimate, based on the March 2002 Current Population Survey and other data sources, is that there are 9.3 million undocumented immigrants in the country. They represent 26 percent of the total foreign-born population.”

Urban Institute, “Undocumented Immigrants: Facts and Figures,” urban.org, Jan. 12, 2004


2003

9,700,000 undocumented immigrants

3.3% of US population

US population: 290,210,914

Jeffrey Passel and D’Vera Cohn, “Unauthorized Immigrants: 11.1 Million in 2011,” pewhispanic.org, Dec. 6, 2012


2002

9,400,000 undocumented immigrants

3.3% of US population

US population: 287,726,647

Jeffrey Passel and D’Vera Cohn, “Unauthorized Immigrants: 11.1 Million in 2011,” pewhispanic.org, Dec. 6, 2012


2001

7,800,000 undocumented immigrants

2.7% of US population

US population: 285,107,923

“In the case of the total unauthorized population, we estimate that the size of this group in mid-2001 varies from a low of about 5.9 million to a high of about 9.9 million, with a mid-range estimate of about 7.8 million. In the case of the Mexican unauthorized population, we estimate that the size of this group varies from a low of about 3.4 million to a high of about 5.8 million, with a mid-range estimate of about 4.5 million. In the case of the non-Mexican Central American unauthorized population, we estimate that the size of this group varies from a low of about 1.2 million to a high of about 1.9 million, with a mid-range estimate of about 1.5 million.”

Pew Research Center, “Estimates of Numbers of Unauthorized Migrants Residing In the United States,” pewresearch.org, Jan. 24, 2002


2000

8,460,000 undocumented immigrants

3.0% of US population

US population: 282,193,477

“DHS [Department of Homeland Security] estimates that the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States increased 24 percent from 8.5 million on January 1, 2000 to 10.5 million on January 1, 2005.”

US Department of Homeland Security, “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2005,” dhs.gov, Aug. 2006


1996

5,000,000 undocumented immigrants

1.9% of US population

US population: 265,228,572

“In its last set of estimates, INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] estimated that the population was 5.0 million in October 1996.”

US Immigration and Naturalization Service, “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: 1990 to 2000,” uscis.gov, Jan. 12, 2004


1992

3,400,000 undocumented immigrants

1.3% of US population

US population: 255,029,699

“In 1994, the INS developed the first detailed national estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population residing in the United States. Those estimates indicated that the unauthorized resident population was 3.4 million as of October 1992.”

US Immigration and Naturalization Service, “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: 1990 to 2000,” uscis.gov, Jan. 12, 2004


1983

2,093,000 undocumented immigrants

0.9% of US population

US population: 223,791,994

“[T]he ‘April 1983 [U.S. Census Bureau] Current Population Survey’ included over two million (2,093,000) undocumented aliens aged fourteen years and over… Just over 30 percent of the two million entered the United States during 1980-1983 and nearly one-half came to the country during the 1970s.”

US Census Bureau, “Change in the Undocumented Alien Population in the United States, 1979-1983,” census.gov, Winter 1987


1980

3,000,000* undocumented immigrants

*3,000,000 is the average between the 2 and 4 million reposted by Warren and Passel below.

1.3% of US population

US population: 227,224,681

“[E]stimates of the number counted in the census [1980] provide a firm empirical basis for setting a lower bound on the total in the country as of 1980. The estimates presented in this paper, along with the results of other studies (Panel on Immigration Statistics, 1985), suggest that the undocumented Mexican population in 1980 was in the 1-2 million range, with the total number from all countries falling in the range of 2-4 million.”

Robert Warren and Jeffrey S. Passel, “A Count of the Uncountable: Estimates of Undocumented Aliens Counted in the 1980 United States Census,” Demography, Aug. 1987


1974

1,116,000* undocumented immigrants

*Sum of 540,000 (1969) and 576,000 (1970-1974) from Warren adn Passel quote below.

0.5% of US population

US population: 213,853,928

“Of the undocumented present and counted in 1980, 941,000 entered during 1975-1980; 576,000 entered during 1970-1974; and 540,000 entered before 1970 [and after passage of the Immigration Act of 1965].”

Robert Warren and Jeffrey S. Passel, “A Count of the Uncountable: Estimates of Undocumented Aliens Counted in the 1980 United States Census,” Demography, Aug. 1987


1969

540,000* undocumented immigrants

*Procon.org interpreted “before 1970” stated by Warren and Passel below to mean as of 1969.

0.3% of US population

US population: 202,676,946

Of the undocumented present and counted in 1980… 540,000 entered before 1970 [and after passage of the Immigration Act of 1965]… Finally, the estimates for 1980 show a high proportion of recent arrivals, and very few who entered the United States prior to 1960.”

Robert Warren and Jeffrey S. Passel, “A Count of the Uncountable: Estimates of Undocumented Aliens Counted in the 1980 United States Census,” Demography, Aug. 1987


Pre-1970

In March 27, 2007, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics told ProCon.org that “data prior to 1970 are scarce,” and “early estimates are not reliable.” The US General Accounting Office explains why pre-1970 information is so hard to find:

“The illegal alien population is constantly in flux. Individuals enter and exit this population daily by making covert border crossings, by taking unauthorized employment, by failing to leave when their visas expire, by dying, and as a result of INS [Immigration and Naturalizations Service] decisions. Policymakers need to know the size of the population at particular moments and the volume of immigration over periods of time. Although illegal immigration has been a concern since the introduction of immigration curbs in 1875, deliberate attempts to estimate the population size reliably were not made until the 1970’s.”

US General Accounting Office, “Report to the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Refugee Policy of the Committee on the Judiciary United States Senate: Problems and Options in Estimating the Size of the Illegal Alien Population,” gao.gov, Sep. 1982