Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Budget Office Outlines Impact of Biden’s Border Bedlam

Sometimes, dry government reports can hide revealing facts deep inside them. Such is the case with the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) annual update regarding demographics.

The CBO report, issued late last month in preparation for the organization’s annual review of the budget and economic outlook, includes typical statistics and projections regarding fertility rates, mortality, life expectancy, and age swings among the American population. But it also shows how the chaos at our southern border under the Biden administration far exceeds all prior migrations, raising questions about the consequences should this bedlam persist.

Immigration Explosion

In its report, the budget office created both prospective and retrospective estimates for three different categories of migrants: legal permanent residents, or people who can become legal permanent residents (e.g., fiancées of citizens, refugees, and asylees); people admitted as non-immigrants, such as students and temporary workers; and other foreign nationals. The last category includes individuals who have entered the country (either at a port of entry or otherwise) illegally, individuals paroled into the United States, and individuals who have overstayed their visas.

As this chart on page six of the report demonstrates, it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in economics to recognize that the explosion in the “other foreign national” category under the Biden administration vastly exceeds all other types of immigration combined over the past two decades:

Elsewhere in the report, CBO notes that it now expects 5 million more migrants to arrive in this country over the next three years (2024 to 2026) than it did just last year. And yet the budget office predicts that the immigration explosion in the “other foreign national” category will soon end almost as quickly as it began:

Net immigration of people in the other foreign national category in 2024 will be similar to what CBO estimates it was in 2023 … and then will decline in 2025 and 2026 as the immigration system adjusts (without new legislation) to the increase in immigration. After 2026, net immigration of other foreign nationals returns to a number that is closer to historical levels. The decline in net immigration between 2024 and 2026 may stem from changes in decisions by other foreign nationals to enter or leave the United States, changes in actions by the administration or immigration judges, or a combination of those changes. (Emphasis mine.)

The budget office projects that “other foreign national” migration will decline from 1.7 million per year over the next three years to 200,000 per year thereafter. In other words, CBO assumes — without giving any solid evidence or justification for its assumption — that net migration will just suddenly decline to just over one-tenth of its current levels, without any changes to current law.

On the one hand, one can’t judge CBO too harshly for its guesswork about whether the migration mayhem continues beyond 2026. The agency did recognize the effect of the current surge by increasing its short-term immigration estimates by 5 million — and CBO generally cannot assume changes in current law. A future administration could (and should) tighten up immigration controls to secure the border.

But given the size and strength of the immigration surge, CBO’s assumption that this migration will quickly abate raises an obvious question: What if it doesn’t?

Secure the Border

Some may use other elements of CBO’s demographic report to argue for the benefits of migration. Because Americans are having fewer children and having them later, CBO estimates that the fertility rate among women over age 30 has exceeded that of women aged 14-29, previously the peak child-bearing years, the budget office projects that deaths will exceed births among the native-born population by 2040. After that date, the United States’ population would begin to decline, absent either net migration to the country or an increase in the birth rate among the native-born.

That said, the current chaos is not legal, not secure, and not controlled — nor, as the graphs in the CBO report indicate, is it anything approaching sustainable. The Biden administration created this mess as a result of its policies — only enforcing the law and securing the border will get us out of it.

This post was originally published at The Federalist.