Long-standing “chain migration” policies that encourage legal immigrants to bring dozens of family members into the U.S. led to an explosion of entries in 2016, 53 percent higher than in 2011, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data.

With an estimated addition of 1.8 million legal and illegal immigrants, 2016 is tied with 1999 for seeing the most enter, about 600,000 more than at the height of the great migration through New York’s Ellis Island in the 1900s.

The huge growth in immigration comes as President Trump is succeeding in cutting illegal entries and rounding up criminal illegals for deportation.

It points to the impact of chain migration and the surge in legal immigration through the loophole, one Trump recently vowed to kill.

A new analysis of the Census numbers by the Center for Immigration Studies said chain migration has vast costs for taxpayers.

Steven Camarota, the center’s director of research and co-author of the report said, “Our generous legal immigration system allows in a huge number of immigrants and then permits them to sponsor their relatives causing a multiplier effect. This chain migration has contributed to nearly 14 million immigrants settling here between 2006 to 2016.”

He added, “The numbers have profound implications for American schools, taxpayers, workers as well as our culture and national security. Yet the whole system is allowed to run largely on autopilot with few asking whether any of this makes sense for our country.”

Recently, immigrants brought into the U.S. by their legal family members have been linked to crime and terrorism, notably last week’s shooting rampage in Harrisburg, Pa. and the arrest of a Pakistani on terror charges.

Those cases prompted Homeland Security Spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton to tweet, “These incidents highlight the Trump administration’s concerns with extended family chain migration. Both chain migration and the diversity lottery program have been exploited by terrorists to attack our country. Not only are the programs less effective at driving economic growth than merit-based immigration systems used by nearly all other countries, the programs make it more difficult to keep dangerous people out of the United States and to protect the safety of every American.”

Camarota’s numbers are stunning considering the Trump administration’s efforts to curb illegal immigration and reverse former President Obama’s open border policies. From his report:

  • More than one million new immigrants (legal and illegal) settled in the country in the first six months of 2016. This represents a 13 percent increase over the same period in 2015, a 24 percent increase over 2014, and a 53 percent increase over the first half of 2011.
  • Based on past patterns, it seems almost certain that when data becomes available for all of 2016 it will show 1.8 million new immigrants arrived in 2016, matching 1999 —the highest level of new immigration in a single year in American history.
  • The 1.8 million immigrants who likely came in 2016 and the 1.6 million who came in 2015 are a continuation of a dramatic rebound in immigration since 2011. In 2014, 1.5 million came, in 2013 1.3 million arrived, in 2012 it was 1.2 million and in 2011 1.1 million new immigrants settled in the country.
  • Regions showing the most dramatic increase in new arrivals between 2011 and 2015 are Central America (up 132 percent), South America (up 114 percent), the Caribbean (up 64 percent), and the Middle East and South Asia both up 52 percent. South Asia includes Indian, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • Mexico remains the top sending country, with 190,000 immigrants (legal and illegal) settling in the United States in 2015, and 216,000 likely coming in all of 2016. While the number of new arrivals from Mexico has roughly doubled since 2011, the number coming remains well below the annual level more than decade ago.
  • The dramatic increase in new immigrants settling in the United States in recent years is primarily driven by the nation’s generous legal immigration system, both long-term temporary visa holders (e.g. guest workers and foreign students) and new permanent residents (green cards).
  • There is also evidence that the arrival of new illegal immigrants may have also rebounded in the last few years. The number of new less-educated younger immigrants arriving each year from Latin American roughly doubled between 2011 and 2016. However, the level remains well below what it before the recession.
  • The decision to admit large numbers of unaccompanied minors at the southern border, along with the adults traveling with them, likely accounts for some of the increase in new illegal immigration, particularly from Central America.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com