For years one of my very favorite research firms, Pew Research, has been estimating that the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. is between 11 million and 12 million.

Its research is based on The American Community Survey. But there’s a BIG problem. You’re trying to survey a group of people who are trying to hide. So, what do you do?

Well, three Yale-affiliated researchers – Mohammad Fazel-Zarandi, Jonathan S. Feinstein, and Edward H. Kaplan – have devised a much more sophisticated approach to counting these illegals. They’re using complex modeling from an array of actual data like immigration rates, death rates, deportations, and visa overstays.

They want to know who’s came into the country and who’s left.

It’s better than guestimating, but their model also suffers from incomplete data, so even these three great minds must make some estimates.

Still, their results were shocking (while being unsurprising)…

Fazel-Zarandi, Feinstein, and Kaplan believe, with a 95% probability, that there are between 16 million and 29 million illegal immigrants currently calling the U.S. home. The average: 22.1 million!

Wait, what?!

That conservative side of 16 million is 42% higher than the current estimate of 11.3 million.

The average is almost double, at 96% higher.

The high range of 29 million is 157% higher or 2.6 times.
Despite this huge jump in numbers, the new AND the old estimates both point to the greatest growth in illegal immigrants in to the U.S. during the 1990s and early 2000s. And both confirm that we’ve seen a mild decline from the peak. (The Pew study shows the numbers peaked in 2007 at 12.0 million, which means we’ve seen a loss of 700,000. The new Yale study shows a peak in 2008 at 23.4 million, putting the loss since then at 1.3 million.)

If this new study is more accurate, and I see no reason to believe it’s not, it would mean that we have a total foreign-born population, including legal immigrants, that’s higher than the 1910 peak of 14.7% of our total population. Today, this group makes up 16.4% of our total population.

Kind of late to build a wall, don’t you think?

I recently saw the President of Mexico declaring that more people have been leaving the U.S. than coming to it for years now. Why is this happening? Because there are better jobs in Mexico and because the U.S. economy has been sluggish and increasingly hostile to immigrants.

The thing is, none of this is a surprise to me. I’ve been predicting for many years now that we would see a dramatic decline in immigration for decades ahead. It’s happening, and we haven’t seen the worst of our Economic Winter Season yet.

What would surprise me is if President Trump doesn’t start throwing these new numbers around soon…

Harry
Follow me on Twitter @harrydentjr

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Harry Dent
Harry studied economics in college in the ’70s, but found it vague and inconclusive. He became so disillusioned by the state of the profession that he turned his back on it. Instead, he threw himself into the burgeoning New Science of Finance, which married economic research and market research and encompassed identifying and studying demographic trends, business cycles, consumers’ purchasing power and many, many other trends that empowered him to forecast economic and market changes.