A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) found that 1.03 million legal immigrants and illegal aliens settled in the United States in the first six months of 2016. Extrapolating based on prior patterns, the total of all of 2016 should be 1.8 million - a number that matches the prior U.S. record in 1999. The levels are driven by chain migration policies, which enable legal immigrants to bring immediate and extended family members into the U.S.

The numbers include new green card holders (legal permanent residents), asylum seekers, guest workers, students and illegal aliens. The 2016 level is expected to be 53 percent higher than in 2011 (1.1 million), a recent low caused by the recession. The levels increased to 1.5 million in 2014 and 1.6 million in 2015. CIS projects the 2016 level was 1,796,000.

Steven Camarota, CIS’ Director of Research and co-author of the report, noted, “These dramatic increases are truly extraordinary. Our generous legal immigration system allows in a huge number of immigrants and then permits them to sponsor their relatives creating a multiplier effect. This chain migration has contributed to nearly 14 million immigrants settling here between 2006 to 2016.  The numbers have profound implications for American schools, taxpayers, workers as well as our culture and national security.  Yet the whole system is allowed to run largely on autopilot with few asking whether any of this makes sense for our country.”

The report included additional findings:

“The dramatic increase in new immigrants settling in the United States in recent years is primarily driven by the nation’s generous legal immigration system, both long-term temporary visa holders (e.g. guest workers and foreign students) and new permanent residents (green cards).

“The decision to admit large numbers of unaccompanied minors at the southern border, along with the adults traveling with them, likely accounts for some of the increase in new illegal immigration, particularly from Central America.

“There is also evidence that the arrival of new illegal immigrants may have also rebounded in the last few years.  The number of new less-educated younger immigrants arriving each year from Latin American roughly doubled between 2011 and 2016.  However, the level remains well below what it was before the recession.

“Regions showing the most dramatic increase in new arrivals between 2011 and 2015 are Central America (up 132 percent), South America (up 114 percent), the Caribbean (up 64 percent), and the Middle East and South Asia both up 52 percent.  South Asia includes Indian, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“Mexico remains the top sending country, with 190,000 immigrants (legal and illegal) settling in the United States in 2015, and 216,000 likely coming in all of 2016.  While the number of new arrivals from Mexico has roughly doubled since 2011, the number coming remains well below the annual level more than decade ago.”

The analysis comes at a time when President Trump is pushing Congress to end chain migration and the Visa Lottery, and to curtail illegal immigration. Adding to the mix, The Washington Times reports:

“Chain migration has become even more controversial amid a growing number of immigrants who entered the U.S. as part of a family and who are now being implicated in terrorist attacks against the U.S. The suspect in the botched New York City subway attack from earlier in December entered the U.S. through the most distant family chain migration possible. The administration over the weekend said a man who opened fire on police in Pennsylvania last week came to the U.S. from Egypt on a family-based visa, and another person charged with laundering bitcoins to support the Islamic State came to the U.S. from Pakistan on a family visa.

In responses to these incidents, Homeland Security Spokesman Tyler Houlton tweeted, “These incidents highlight the Trump administration’s concerns with extended family chain migration. Both chain migration and the diversity lottery program have been exploited by terrorists to attack our country. Not only are the programs less effective at driving economic growth than merit-based immigration systems used by nearly all other countries, the programs make it more difficult to keep dangerous people out of the United States and to protect the safety of every American.”

Read the CIS report.

Updated: Thu, Jan 11th 2018 @ 1:20pm EST