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  • George Farag

Sky Is Not Falling on Legal Immigration

The Trump Administration is taking action to strictly enforce our nation’s #immigration laws. There will be outcomes to this that can be examined in more detail when additional data is available. However, for now, I’ll put away my umbrella because the sky is not falling on legal immigration.



On February 24, Zolan Kanno-Youngs at the New York Times published an article outlining a plummet in legal immigration. The article suggests an eminent catastrophe in legal immigration with phrases like “a steep drop is looming,” “rapid declines,” and “further winnowed foreign travelers.” Kanno-Youngs cites an analysis of government data to support his claims.


As an immigrant to America and a former U.S. diplomat I wanted to check if the sky is falling on legal immigration. I did my own analysis of the same government data on legal permanent residents (LPRs) who immigrated to America legally. These legal immigrants are also referred to as green card holds. Here is what I found:


There was a modest drop of 3% in the number of people who became permanent residents in 2018 compared to 2017.
  • 1,096,611 million people obtained legal #greencards in 2018.

  • 1,127,167 million people obtained green cards in 2017


The average number of people who became green card holders under #Trump (1,111,889) is higher than the average under Obama, Bush, and Clinton.
  • 4% higher compared to the average during the #Obama Administration (1,073,250)

  • 7% higher compared to the average during the #Bush Administration (1,040,951)

  • 42% higher compared to the average during the #Clinton Administration (785,061)


The article cites a “projected” 30 percent plunge in legal immigration by 2021.

  • Assuming this is even true it still would not be as low as the average of #LegalImmigration during the Clinton Administration.


The article reminds readers that legal family immigrants “from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia were blocked by the president’s travel ban.”

  • This is true but 137,709 immigrants from 42 other Muslim majority countries became green card holders in 2018.

137,709 immigrants from 42 Muslim majority countries became green card holders in 2018.

The article estimates that Trump’s #travelbans are “almost sure” to block 5 percent of people who would have been granted permanent residency.

  • Millions of applicants have been waiting for decades to immigrate. They can fill the 5% gap based on legally established immigration quotas.


There is no doubt that the Trump Administration is taking action to strictly enforce our nation’s immigration laws. There will be outcomes to this that can be examined in more detail when additional data over time is available. However, for now, I’ll put away my umbrella because the sky is not falling on legal immigration.

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