Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) Ken Cuccinelli said during a speaking event on Wednesday that there are an estimated 22 million illegal aliens residing in the U.S. today.
According to The Washington Examiner, Cuccinelli was citing a study done by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which places the number at 22.1 million.
“I was just quoting the MIT study,” he said while speaking at a Christian Science Monitor newsmaker breakfast. “That’s the one I know. I just use it as a reference point. Because from an operational standpoint, it doesn’t matter too much. We deal with what’s in front of us. So that’s the perspective that I bring to it. It’s useful to know. It’s an important thing at a 100,000-foot level.”
As The Examiner reports,
The number typically cited is 11 million to 13 million illegal immigrants in the country. The latest estimate, from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, is 14 million. An accurate count is difficult to calculate.
But Cuccinelli, who is on the shortlist to lead the Department of Homeland Security, said that for policy purposes it is better to work around the larger potential number than be blind to how big the crisis could actually be.
The MIT PLOS One study published in September 2018 has been widely disputed, as estimates have ranged from 10 to 14 million, objections made primarily for that reason.
Other recent figures include a study by the Pew Research Center in July which estimated that there were roughly 10.5 million illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. in 2017.
The Center for Migration Studies in February 2018 estimated 10.8 million illegal aliens living in the U.S. in 2016.
The most recent calculation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated an “unauthorized immigrant population” of 12 million in January 2015.
President Trump in June said that federal immigration officials would begin removing “the millions of illegal aliens that have illicitly found their way into the United States.”
Cooperation between federal immigration officials and local authorities remains inconsistent.