MIGRATIONMore Than 12 Million Illegal Border Crossers Since Fiscal 2021

Published 24 June 2024

Of the more than 12 million people who have illegally crossed the border into the U.S. since 2021, 10,147,015 were apprehended or encountered, and the rest are estimated “gotaways.” The number of illegal border crossers since 2021 is greater than population of 44 states, 155 countries.

More than 12 million people have illegally crossed the border into the U.S. since 2021, data obtained and analyzed by The Center Square show.

That includes the more than 241,000 apprehensions of illegal border crossers in May. The total number who’ve illegally entered the U.S. nationwide in fiscal 2024 through May is more than 2.2 million, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

The majority of illegal border crossers are overwhelmingly single adults. In fiscal 2024 through May, they totaled over 1.35 million.

CBP’s fiscal year goes from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Under the current administration, each fiscal year breaks a new record for apprehensions and encounters and outnumber U.S. state, city and country populations.

Fiscal year through May totals are potentially on track to surpass last fiscal year’s record of more than 3.2 million apprehensions, the highest on record in U.S. history, according to CBP data. They surpassed more than 2.7 million apprehensions in fiscal 2022, which surpassed more than 1.9 in fiscal 2021.

From fiscal 2021 through fiscal 2024 through May, the number of illegal border crossers apprehended or encountered total 10,147,015, according to CBP data.

The official data excludes “gotaways,” the official term used by CBP to describe foreign nationals who illegally enter the U.S. between ports of entry and don’t return to Mexico or Canada. CBP does not publicly report this data. The Center Square first began obtaining it from a Border Patrol agent on condition of anonymity to provide a more accurate picture of monthly illegal crossings.

For example, CBP’s official apprehension data for fiscal 2023 totaled 3.2 million, but when gotaway data obtained by The Center Square was added, the total reached nearly 4 million.

An estimated minimum two million gotaways have illegally entered the country under the Biden administration, The Center Square first reported.

Officially reported internal gotaway data totals are considered by border agents “a best guess” and believed to be underreported by between 10% and 20%, authorities have told The Center Square. They also say they have no idea how many, who or where these gotaways are.

Including the most up-to-date CBP data and gotaway data obtained by The Center Square, the estimated total number of illegal borders crossers exceeds at a minimum more than 12 million through the end of May.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, recently said the total number was closer to 16 million.

Using the estimated 12.1 million figure, from fiscal 2021 through May in fiscal 2024, illegal border crossings total more than the population of 44 U.S. states.

They also total more than the population of all individual U.S. cities, including New York City, and are greater than the populations of roughly 155 countries.

Illegal border crossers (from fiscal 2021 through fiscal 2024 through May) total more than 20 Wyomings, 18.6 Vermonts, 16.4 Alaskas, 15.3 North Dakotas, 13 South Dakotas, and nearly 11.5 Delawares, President Joe Biden’s home state.

Put another way, they total 31% of California’s entire population, 39% of Texas’ population, and 52.6% of Florida’s population, the country’s three most populous states.

They total 62% of New York’s population, 93% of Pennsylvania’s population, and nearly 97% of Illinois’ population, the fourth, fifth and sixth-most populous states, respectively.

If their total were a country’s population, they’d be the 80th largest country in the world, totaling more than the populations of roughly 155 countries.

They total more than double the populations of Finland, Norway, Lebanon, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Ireland, Panama and Kuwait. They total nearly half of Australia.

The Center Square first reported on the number of illegal border crossers totaling more than the population of individual states. In the first six months of 2021, 1.1 million illegal border crossers totaled enough to create the tenth largest city in the U.S. and more than the individual population of nine states.

By June 2022, the 1.1 million had increased to more than three million, totaling more than the individual populations of 23 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

By August 2022, that number had increased to be greater than the individual population of 25 states and more than 100 countries and territories.

Illegal entries into the U.S. exponentially increased after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas implemented policies to create a “legal pathway” for millions of foreign nationals who otherwise would be prohibited entry. His actions resulted in the U.S. House impeaching him in February and more than half of all U.S. states suing to block his policies, arguing they are illegal.

Bethany Blankley is a contributor at The Center Square. The article was originally published in The Center Square.