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By the Numbers: Record Visa Overstays in 2022

author Published by Jeremy Beck

The rate of visitors to the United States overstaying their visas doubled in 2022, according to newly-released government data. We’ve updated our graphic.

By the Numbers Breakdown:

  • 2.1 million migrants have been released (Jan. 2021-March 2023) after crossing the border illegally. Total releases are almost certainly higher, but until the government releases the full data, we can’t know the exact number.
  • 850,000 visitors overstayed their visas and remained in the country illegally in 2022.
  • 600,000 aliens were estimated to have entered the country illegally without apprehension and blended into the underground workforce that employers exploit as there is no requirement to use the free E-Verify online system to verify work authorization.
  • Green cards dropped below 800,000/year during 2020 & 2021 due to pandemic restrictions. Data for 2022 has not been released but there is every reason to expect numbers to have returned to the more than 1,000,000 green cards issued annually for the last two decades.

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SpreadSheet Enforcement

While the total number of people entering the U.S. outside of the legal system put in place by Congress remains at record levels, the Biden administration has reduced illegal entries between ports of entry by urging migrants to schedule an appointment at a port of entry through a cellphone app, or – if they are from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, or Venezuela – to arrange a flight directly into the United States. Thus, the numbers are moved from one proverbial column on a spreadsheet to another (i.e. column A has fewer numbers but column B has more, but don’t look at column B).

  • Mark Krikorian figures that, despite the revised accounting, Southwest border encounters are still roughly four times the level at which President Obama’s DHS Secretary said constituted a crisis.
  • Todd Bensman reports that at least some migrants who have been turned away at the border are being directed to the “CBP One” cell phone app and coming right back.
  • Federal law requires all of these individuals to be detained throughout their proceedings, but most are being released.
  • Nick Miroff reports that New York City’s shelter system has more than doubled to 95,000 at a cost of $380 per person, per day. New York City and surrounding counties are suing each other over who will take responsibility for the next wave of arrivals.
  • States are also threatening legal actions against each other over the transportation of migrants.
  • Democratic presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. describes his visit to the border and a well-organized illegal immigration system with human smugglers on one side of the border, and the U.S. government on the other.


67% of Democrats find it important to reduce the number of people coming to the U.S. to seek asylum, according to a new poll from Pew Research.

New York City’s homeless shelter system has doubled in size and a CBS News Poll shows that Democrats increasingly think the Biden administration should be tougher on immigration and believe that their cities do not have enough facilities to house migrants. Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, and Fred Backus report:

An increasing majority of Americans are calling for the Biden administration to be tougher on immigrants trying to cross the border — including a sizable 41% of Democrats — and the Democrats’ number is up from [34%] in February…

…The number of Americans who think there is room in their town — in the form of facilities or public housing — is lower than the number willing to accept people. Among Democrats who live in cities, specifically, that gap between willingness and perceived space persists.”

The poll found that Democrats increasingly consider the practice of sending migrants North less of a political stunt and more about “involving other parts of the country” that have more resources.

Additional findings:

  • 62% of Democrats want some immigration based on strict criteria and 11% want to stop all immigration.
  • 92% of Democrats think the current situation with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border is either a somewhat serious problem, a very serious problem, or a crisis (only 8% think it’s not much of a problem).
  • 82% of Democrats think in regards to the U.S.- Mexico border that only people meeting approved U.S. criteria should be able to cross and 5% think that no one should be able to cross.

Lower Wages is the Point

Oren Cass puts immigration expansion in the larger context of economic proposals to keep labor “plentiful and cheap” – from Fed Chair Powell’s call to restore “balance” to the tight labor market, to think-tank advocacy for higher unemployment. DHS Secretary Mayorkas speaks about illegal immigration’s potential to help desperate employers fill jobs. The Secretary of Labor has called to increase immigration to fill jobs in Big Tech and restaurants, echoing the Mark Zuckerberg backed lobbying group who acknowledge that immigration policy can provide “relief” to employers who might otherwise have to raise wages.

Black and Hispanic Americans have long been underrepresented in Silicon Valley, and it is hard for Lawrence P. King of the STEM News Chronicle to see how increasing immigration will change that:

Rather that {sic} addressing the need to revise immigration policy, lawmakers and industry sector groups continue their collaboration to hold wages low and keeping their shareholders content by allowing thousands of guest workers annually to enter the US as competitors to existing American workers, and for those yet to join the workforce.”

A society that rejects its own workers will fall apart.

Cass also points to legislation in several states that would loosen child-labor laws – this, at a time when more than a quarter-million unaccompanied minors have been released into the United States over the past two years, and two-thirds of them have ended up ore than a working full-time.

Open borders and loose child labor laws are a bad mix. A tightly-regulated immigration system would open up jobs for all kinds of Americans, including teenagers.

JEREMY BECK is a V.P., Deputy Director for NumbersUSA

LISA IRVING is a Content Writer At Large

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