Deceptive Statement on the Size of the Immigrant Influx

spreadsheet_numbers_rotator_675x450I participated earlier this month in a media interview on immigration along with a spokesperson for the leftist Center for American Progress (CAP).

I expressed incredulity that anyone would want to increase immigration when there are now on average more than one million immigrants admitted each year.  The CAP spokesperson jumped on that statement and said that it was misleading because only a few hundred thousand new immigrants are admitted each year – others are already in the country waiting for a ‘green card.’

Technically he was correct.  For example, in fiscal year 2013 (the latest data available in the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics) of 990,553 immigrants admitted for legal permanent residence (LPR), 495,751 of those persons were new arrivals and the others were persons already in the country who adjusted their nonimmigrant status to LPR status.

But, to say that the flow of immigrants into the country is less than about a million a year at present is deliberately misleading. The number of immigrant admissions since 1989 has averaged 1,045,021 per year, and that is testimony to the fact that even though some of these individuals entered as nonimmigrants and then converted to LPRs, their arrival is also part of the annual immigration flow.

Some of those new immigrants came as refugees or fiancées or Cubans admitted under the ‘wet-foot-dry-foot’ policy and had to wait a year before they could get their ‘green card.’ Others came as ‘temporary’ workers, such as with H-1B visas, and had to wait several years for their employer to sponsor them. But, regardless of the route, those adjusting status are as much a part of the immigration flow into the country as those who arrive in a given year from abroad with an immigrant visa.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar
    Martin Gomez on

    The whole thing is a racket — corrupt Repubs get cheap labor and corrupt Dems get cheap voters. The only people getting screwed are 300 million Americans.

  2. avatar

    The issuing of Green cards which are good for life is absolutely disgusting. So for a short period of time a foreign worker uses skills that are obsolete in a year or two, but that justifies giving him/her a green card for life? Total crap, Green cards should be temporary. Our country has issued untold numbers of green cards to foreigners who job skill is “COBOL programmer”. COBOL programming is a dying occupation so why don’t we periodically examine the technical worth of a Green card holder before allowing them to stay in the U.S. job market?

  3. avatar

    Typical sleight of hand argument. If they arrive with an immigrant visa or are admitted as refugees or have their work visa “adjusted”, they are still here to stay. It still means a million people admitted per year.