Debate over illegal immigration undermined by unclear government statistics

As the debate about what to do with undocumented immigrants continues to rage in the U.S, the scale of the problem is not even officially known since the U.S. government does not even have accurate figures documenting how many undocumented immigrants are actually in the country.

One of the largest hurdles to accomplishing anything in regards to immigration is the lack of accurate information in the debate, including the amount of undocumented immigrants, cash, drugs and guns that cross the U.S. border each year; whether the U.S. economy incurs a net gain or a net loss due to undocumented immigrants; and the number of undocumented immigrants who are currently in the U.S.

Even  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not certain of the numbers, with its director, Sarah R. Saldana, telling Congress that while private companies estimate around 11 or 12 million undocumented immigrants live in the U.S., the real figure could actually be as high as 15 million, although Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has alleged that it is more like 30 million.

The Center for Immigration Studies research director Steven A. Camarota says that the immigration debate is one without any sound government statistics to back up either side of the argument, adding that it is shocking that an agency that is given tens of billions of dollars to enforce immigration laws is unable to even give an accurate assessment of whether or not the problem is getting better or worse.