Overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants aren’t under federal supervision: analysis

Join Fox News for access to this content

Plus special access to select articles and other premium content with your account – free of charge.

By entering your email and pushing continue, you are agreeing to Fox News’ Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which includes our Notice of Financial Incentive.

Please enter a valid email address.

By entering your email and pushing continue, you are agreeing to Fox News’ Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which includes our Notice of Financial Incentive.

Having trouble? Click here.

A relatively small number of illegal immigrants is enrolled in any form of federal supervision, according to a new analysis from a conservative group being shared widely by House Republicans, who are calling for policy changes.

The study, produced by the National Immigration Center for Enforcement (NICE), used as a basis a study that found there are 16.8 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Estimates on how many illegal immigrants are in the country vary considerably, and the 16.8 million figure comes from the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

From there, the analysis cites numbers, confirmed by Fox News, that the number on the non-detained docket — those not under supervision or detention — is more than 7 million. The remainder include gotaways and visa overstays and others.

However, there are only around 41,500 in ICE detention beds, and over 180,000 are being supervised under ICE’s Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. 


As part of ATD, illegal immigrants are enrolled in the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP), which uses case management and technology, including GPS and ankle monitors, to track them. It means that less than 2% of illegal immigrants are in detention or in ATD.

A DHS document in 2022 noted that, at that time, only about 3% of the non-detained docket is enrolled in ATD, but since then, the number of those on the non-detained docket has expanded considerably. DHS did not respond to a request for comment on the analysis.

The analysis has been shared by top Republicans in the House and Senate, including Speaker Mike Johnson, and comes as there is a continued fight between Republicans in Congress and the administration over how to tackle the ongoing crisis at the southern border.

The administration has repeatedly called for more funding and sweeping reforms to fix what it says is a broken system. It says bills to provide that funding, including a bipartisan Senate bill this year, have been blocked by Republicans for political reasons. The administration has also said it has removed or returned more illegal immigrants in the last year than in multiple previous fiscal years combined and has pointed to its moves, including recent executive action to limit asylum claims when entries have reached a certain level. 

At last week’s debate, President Biden accused former President Trump of blocking bipartisan legislation for political purposes.

“This bipartisan deal, more fentanyl machines to be able to detect drugs, more numbers of agents, more numbers of all the people at the border,” Biden said. “And when we had that deal done, [former President Trump] … called his Republican colleagues (and) said, ‘Don’t do it. It’s going to hurt me politically.’ He never argued it’s not a good bill. It’s a really good bill.”

Republicans say those bills would not fix the problem and that Biden’s administration has created the border crisis by ending Trump-era policies and releasing migrants into the interior instead of detaining them. Republicans in the House last year passed their own legislation to stop entries into the U.S. and expand certain funding paths. They have also impeached DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, although articles were rejected in the Senate.

“President Biden refuses to detain illegal aliens in accordance with the law. Instead, he honors the wishes of ‘Abolish ICE’ groups who not only oppose custodial detention but call any form of GPS monitoring a ‘digital prison,’” RJ Hauman, president of NICE, told Fox News Digital. 

“The result? Lawlessness at our border and preventable crime after preventable crime. Sadly, with nearly 99% of illegal aliens currently unsupervised by ICE, there will be more to come. The American people must put an end to it all in November.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green told Fox News Digital the administration has “made clear from the beginning that they had no interest in following the laws they swore to uphold, including the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that require the detention of inadmissible aliens.”

“This willful and systemic refusal to follow the law is one reason why Secretary Mayorkas is now the only sitting Cabinet official in American history to be impeached. This refusal makes a mockery of our laws,” he said.

“We have also seen countless examples in just the last few days that those being released by DHS go on to commit horrific crimes in our communities. The consequences of this lawlessness have become unbearable — except for the open-borders left.”