Do 40% of illegal immigrants to the US from Mexico arrive by plane?


What are you gonna do with planes? He forgot planes. Oh, Trump, 40% of us come here by air. 40%

  • Give me a few minutes and I'll figure out how to make that video appear... or someone can help. – ErikE Feb 18 '17 at 18:11
  • And then there are boats. Or just driving across on a tourist visa, and getting lost :-) – jamesqf Feb 18 '17 at 19:05
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    There could be a slight tense issue here as many (most?) of those using planes are not illegal immigrants at the time they use the planes – Henry Feb 19 '17 at 0:27
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    But everyone who entered by plane entered legally. So the legal number is an upper bound of the plane number. – Brythan Feb 19 '17 at 1:22
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    @ErikE People fly in legally using a visa and then oversay the visa, which then makes them be here illegally. Most of the Asian illegal immigrants arrive that way, but not very many Mexican illegal immigrants. – DavePhD Feb 19 '17 at 1:23

Politifact checked this:

Ramos said that about 40 percent of undocumented immigrants fly into the country and overstay their visas. While there is some evidence that overstays represent about 40 percent of the unauthorized population, and perhaps more, the best estimates of those flying in -- which are admittedly a bit shaky -- could be as low as one-quarter or somewhat more than one-third. The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details, so we rate it Half True.

So 40% is all overstays, not just those who fly into the country on planes. So it's a real statistic but not properly described.

It has been noted that this is all undocumented immigrants, not just Mexican undocumented immigrants. It is conceivable that Mexicans could have a different rate than the group as a whole. And in fact, they do. In a previous question, it was answered that "9% of Mexicans arrested for being illegally present were found to be overstays." But that's lower, not higher.

The reason why overstays are important here is that the vast preponderance of people who enter the country by air do so legally at airports. Those who do not leave when scheduled are considered to have "overstayed" their visa. But while many overstays enter by plane, not all do. Some enter by ship or a ground vehicle (bus, car, etc.).

There is also an argument that the only "illegal immigrants" are those who arrive without legal sanction. That's not true of overstays, as they arrive legally and stay. I'm assuming that the term is being used in the broader form of everyone who is in the country without legal sanction.

The correct form of the statistic is that 40% of all illegal aliens in the United States arrived legally by normal transit, e.g. plane, ship, or ground. Limiting to Mexican-born, air travel, or those who transited illegally would each decrease that percentage.

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  • 40% is for all illegal immigrants. For illegal immigrants from Mexico, the percentage is much lower. skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/36918/… – DavePhD Feb 19 '17 at 0:37
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    This whole claim depends on a hand waving conflation of (a) Mexicans versus other immigrants and (b) people who enter 'illegally' and people who enter legally and then overstay. I think the answer needs to spell this out in painful detail, but this doesn't. – Oddthinking Feb 19 '17 at 1:16
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    @Brythan The video says "send them back to Mexico" and "even if you send us all back to Mexico" – DavePhD Feb 19 '17 at 1:27
  • Even if it was true (the context is, perhaps deliberately vague) that's all the more reason to make the answer crystal clear about which readings are true and which are false. The confusion is precisely what we are here to stop. – Oddthinking Feb 19 '17 at 4:02
  • Oh, I just saw it had been marked as a duplicate. :-( Does it make sense for me to move this answer there? – Oddthinking Feb 19 '17 at 13:04

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