The starting point of any conversation about immigration should be the numbers. This week’s episode of the Center for Immigration Studies podcast highlights a recent report co-authored by Steven Camarota, the Center’s director of research, which examines the number and share of the foreign-born in the United States.

The total foreign-born population, encompassing both legal and illegal immigrants, has soared to a record high of 51.4 million as of February 2024, marking a monumental increase of 6.4 million since President Biden assumed office. This increase has driven the foreign-born share to an unprecedented 15.5% of the population, eclipsing historical benchmarks like that seen in 1910 and reaching a level that the Census Bureau had estimated the country would not reach until 2039.
Camarota discusses the impact of policy decisions on immigration trends, noting, “This level of growth over such a short period of time was clearly caused by policy changes.” He emphasizes that “without new policies, there is no reason to believe there will be a slowdown in population growth in the future.”

The implication of these historically high numbers, coupled with the growing share of the immigration population, impacts crucial aspects of American society, including assimilation, linguistic integration, and the economy. Camarota highlights the changing demographics – greater proportion of Latin American immigrants, more illegal immigrants, and a trend towards lower educational attainment.

Camarota is especially concerned about education levels, as education is a key indicator of how people will fare in the modern economy – including factors such as employment potential, salary level, taxes paid, public benefits used, etc.

He also underscores the distinction between the size of the economy (GDP) and its per capita performance, discussing how per capita GDP can be adversely affected despite overall economic expansion from an increase in population.

In his closing commentary, Mark Krikorian, the Center’s executive director and podcast host, draws attention to Biden’s CHNV parole program. In just 14 months, this program has permitted an estimated 386,000 foreign nationals to enter the country who have no legal right to be here and who present special security challenges.


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Steven Camarota is the Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies.


The Foreign-Born Share and Number at Record Highs

What is CHNV Parole – and Why Should You Care?


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a “Conehead” on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in “Planet of the Apes”.

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Published in: General