NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Fewer Legal Immigrants Than Expected In 1998

August 12, 1999

The U.S. took in 660,447 legal immigrants and roughly 300,000 more entered illegally during the 1998 fiscal year, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The number of legal immigrants was about 100,000 short of the projected figure.

  • Nearly half of the legal newcomers were persons already living in the U.S. -- including temporary workers, foreign students, refugees and persons seeking asylum.
  • Aliens can obtain temporary visas that allow them to live and possibly work in the U.S, then they can apply to have their status adjusted and become legal permanent residents and eventually citizens.
  • The number of adjustment applications skyrocketed from 121,000 in fiscal 1994 to 811,000 by the end of fiscal 1998 -- largely due to changes Congress made in immigration laws.
  • The backlog that resulted largely explains why fewer persons were granted legal status last year than the service had predicted.

Congress has limited the number of persons to be admitted to the country from all parts of the world to 675,000 per year. But that cap is considered flexible because of certain exemption categories.

Legal immigrants from Mexico made up by far the largest country- of-origin category, at 19.9 percent -- followed by entrants from China, India, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Cuba, Jamaica, El Salvador and Korea.

Source: August Gribbin, "INS Releases Numbers for 1998," Washington Times, August 12, 1999.


Browse more articles on Government Issues