Fact Check

US Illegal Immigration Grew Tenfold from 2017 to 2023?

"2023 illegal migration grows 10x in seven years," multiple posts on X claimed.

Published Feb. 13, 2024

A migrant caravan walks into Mexico from Guatemala on Oct. 21, 2018, near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) (John Moore/Getty Images)
A migrant caravan walks into Mexico from Guatemala on Oct. 21, 2018, near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Illegal immigration into the U.S. grew tenfold between 2017 and 2023.

The migrant border encounter numbers shared on X mixed real statistics from two different data sets, resulting in an exaggerated depiction of illegal immigration growth during that time period.

On Feb. 12, 2024, a user on X (formerly Twitter) with the handle?@MarioNawfal made a post?(archived) that claimed the number of migrants attempting to illegally enter the United States had grown tenfold over the course of seven years. The user included data for the years 2017 through 2024. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was cited as the source of the statistics.

The post received more than 24 million views and was copied and pasted?by many other users. It read as follows:


2024 SO FAR: 988,819

2023: 3,201,144

2022: 2,766,582

2021: 1,956,519

2020: 405,036

2019: 859,501

2018: 404,142

2017: 310,531

Source: US Customs & Border Protection

It's true that these were real numbers pertaining to migrant border encounters that appeared on the CBP website. However, the numbers for the first four years were taken from a different data set than those for the most recent four years, resulting in an inaccurate depiction of the overall size of the increase.

The true increase of illegal immigration into the U.S. between fiscal years 2017 and 2023 was a growth of around six times, not tenfold — from 526,901 to 3,201,144. The data from CBP showed much higher numbers of border encounters with migrants attempting to enter the country during U.S. President Joe Biden's administration than during former President Donald Trump's term in office.

The numbers included in the posts on X for 2017 through 2020 reflected the number of encounters reported only by U.S. Border Patrol. Meanwhile, the numbers for 2021 through 2024 were sourced from the total number of encounters reported by the Border Patrol and the Office of Field Operations. Both are CBP agencies.

Further, the number included in the posts on X for "2024 so far" — as well as numbers for all of the other years — referenced CBP's fiscal year. Each fiscal year begins on Oct. 1 of the previous calendar year, meaning that the data for fiscal year 2024 began on Oct. 1, 2023.

For further reading, we previously reported?about another false rumor promoted by @MarioNawfal that claimed Costco had just started selling what some users were referring to as "doomsday" food and supplies kits. However, the truth was that Costco had been selling emergency food kits and supplies since at least 2008.


"CBP Enforcement Statistics." U.S. Customs and Border Protection, https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/cbp-enforcement-statistics.

"CBP Enforcement Statistics Fiscal Year 2023." U.S. Customs and Border Protection, https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/cbp-enforcement-statistics-fy2023.

Liles, Jordan. "Did Costco Start Selling 'Doomsday' Emergency Food Kits in January 2024?" Snopes, 3 Feb. 2024, //fact-check/costco-doomsday-food-kits/.

"Yearbook 2022 | Homeland Security." U.S. Department of Homeland Security, https://www.dhs.gov/ohss/topics/immigration/yearbook/2022.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.