President-Elect Trump has said that he plans to deport or jail between 2 million and 3 million illegal migrants in the USA who have criminal records.

US President-elect Donald Trump has said he will deport or jail up to three million illegal migrants initially.

Those targeted would be migrants with criminal records, such as gang members and drug dealers, he told US broadcaster CBS in an interview. ...

For the first time since winning the US presidency, Donald Trump has put a number on how many people he plans to deport from US soil and it's a big one - two to three million.

Although he says this group comprises violent criminals, drug-dealers and gang members, to hit such a high mark would involve either casting a very wide net that covers even the smallest infractions or also deporting legal alien residents of the US with criminal convictions.

BBC News: Trump election: Up to three million migrants 'to be targeted', 13 Nov 2016

Are there 2 to 3 million illegal migrants in the USA who have criminal records?

  • 8
    This claim would be better if you separate out if the criminality of being in the US is included in your definition of criminal record?
    – user36356
    Nov 13, 2016 at 22:52
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    @KDog It's not the OP's responsibility to define the terms used in the claim; but any answer should be be clear about what's in the answer.
    – ChrisW
    Nov 14, 2016 at 2:36
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    @KDog I'm not a US resident and not clear on the details of how the US immigration system works. To have a criminal record wouldn't you have to have been prosecuted and convicted? And if you were convicted of breaching immigration law wouldn't you have been deported already? Why prosecute otherwise? Genuine qns, not clear on this. Answers which explain are very welcome.
    – A E
    Nov 14, 2016 at 7:59
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    How can they have any sort of record if they are not legally registered as residents?
    – gerrit
    Nov 14, 2016 at 10:52
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    @gerrit An immigrant is arrested, convicted, jailed, and deported. Now there is a record. That same person reenters the country illegally. Now, that person is not legally registered as a resident and has a record. An example of this is Kate Steinle's killer, who was deported multiple times. This also may include people who have criminal records in foreign countries.
    – Brythan
    Nov 14, 2016 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


In the massive document U.S. Department of Homeland Security Annual Performance Report Fiscal Years 2011 – 2013 on page 1092 of the document

ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] estimates that approximately 900,000 [footnote 3] arrests of aliens for crimes occur every year and that approximately 550,000 criminal aliens convicted of crimes exit law enforcement custody every year. ICE has never had the capability to identify, arrest and remove all of these criminal aliens. ICE estimates that 1.9 [footnote 4] million removable criminal aliens are in the United States today. This population of criminal aliens poses a major threat to public safety.

See also 8 U.S. Code § 1227 - Deportable aliens

See also Understanding the Potential Impact of Executive Action on Immigration Enforcement:

MPI [Migration Policy Institute] estimates that about 690,000 (6.3%) of resident unauthorized immigrants have been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanors

If less serious convictions are included, the 690,000 increases to 820,000. (Neither of these numbers includes 790,000 "immigration obstructionists" who have defied a judges final deportation order)

So overall, in the sense that people estimate there are 11 million illegal aliens, 820,000 have been convicted of some crime, but if other types of deportable aliens are considered, 1.9 million have been convicted of a crime.

Only the 820,000 are in the USA illegally and have a criminal record.

  • 19
    Do the documents define what infractions they are considering as "crimes" for the purposes of these statistics? If so, that's relevant information as the claim tends to focus on violent offenders/gang members, rapists, drug traffickers, and similar "serious" crimes, as opposed to say, simply having previously been caught and convicted of being in the U.S. illegally (which on the first offence is a "serious misdemeanor", and a felony on second and subsequent offences). To really answer the claim, it's necessary to know what threshold of criminality is being applied.
    – aroth
    Nov 14, 2016 at 2:28
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    In your first revision, I concluded that the data you showed was 1.9 million plus 600,000. That means the answer to the question is yes. But you didn't say that, so I was commenting that you should literally answer the question because it helps readers. Since I apparently I miss read the quotes it shows the need for this. The actual answer is "no, but close." You should put those words in your answer, preferably at the top.
    – user11643
    Nov 14, 2016 at 4:16
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    @MadScientist see the Venn diagram that is Fig. 1 here hsdl.org/?view&did=744667
    – DavePhD
    Nov 14, 2016 at 14:49
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    @fredsbend. The documents cited make it clear the 1.9 million can not be included in answer to this question. Illegal Alien and Criminal Alien are not synonyms. An illegal alien is one who is not authorized to remain in the United States, or obtained that authorization unlawfully. A criminal alien is one convicted of a crime, regardless of whether they are lawfully present. "the set of all criminal aliens includes both unauthorized aliens. [and] criminal aliens who have been convicted of removable criminal offenses ... even if they are otherwise legally present." (emphasis mine).
    – tallus
    Nov 14, 2016 at 19:43

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