On the Sunday edition of Fox & Friends Weekend, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick claimed undocumented immigrants will comprise 20% of the U.S. population by the end of Joe Biden’s presidency. The claim was replayed on Fox News on Monday, including on The Faulkner Focus and the weekday edition of Fox & Friends. Patrick claimed this statistic came from “numbers we created in Texas” and an MIT study, but it is vastly exaggerated.
During his appearance, Patrick mentioned a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study that came out “before Biden became president,” which he claimed shows “we had about 30 million people here illegally.” He was apparently referencing a 2018 study by both Yale University and MIT, which claimed there are 22.1 million undocumented people living in the United States, about double what was previously thought.
However, there are two problems with Patrick's use of the study. First, the data used shows that migration had plateaued at the time and was not trending upward. Second, other researchers have questioned the study’s findings, saying it vastly overestimated migration from Mexico between 1990 and 2000 and underestimated emigration. The Migration Policy Institute analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data put the figure of undocumented people around 11 million in 2019 or about 3.3% of the United States’ 332 million people.
Patrick also claimed that Border Patrol apprehends only one out of every three people -- 33% -- crossing the border illegally. This statistic may have also come from the Yale/MIT study, which claimed that the Department of Homeland Security said the apprehension rate in 2005 was only 35%. The same statistic, however, also showed that the apprehension rate rose over time to about 50% by 2015. Also, tracking how many border crossers get past Border Patrol is an estimation, which is calculated using a combination of survey data, mathematical models, and assessments from Border Patrol. And as of 2017, the DHS claimed that Border Patrol intercepted between 55% and 85% of undocumented border crossers, which is still well above Patrick’s 33% figure.
Patrick appeared to be jumping on the bandwagon of Fox’s rhetoric against migration, capitalizing on the fear there might be an incalculable migrant surge after the end of Title 42, the pandemic-era restriction that allowed prompt expulsion of migrants from the United States. But such fearmongering is also unfounded. While an initial high influx of migrants is expected after the regulation drops, as many migrants stuck near the border would enter the country without threat of immediate expulsion, it is unlikely to stay consistently high as spring gives way to the high temperatures of summer and repeat crossings also decrease.
Patrick’s claims are flimsy and stretch the reality at the border, and now that misinformation is spreading over Fox News.