How many people would come here under open borders?

As we find solutions to the humanitarian crisis at our southern border, it’s important to ask how many unaccompanied minors and, primarily, adults and children presenting themselves as families we could see crossing our southern border illegally if we do nothing to change the situation.


Earlier this year, media in Guatemalan reported the results of a poll that asked Guatemalan citizens about migration.


The answer: 25.3 percent of Guatemalans surveyed told pollsters they intend to migrate out of the country in the next three years. In another question, 85% of those asked to name a country they had thought to emigrating to picked the United States.

Guatemala has about 17.6 million people. If 85 percent of that quarter of them planning to emigrate indeed do choose to move here, that implies that about 3.7 million Guatemalans may come to the United States – more than a fifth of that country’s population.


You can see the results of the survey, in Spanish, on slides 38 and 39 here

It isn’t just Guatemala. The Gallup organization reported in December 2018 that 158 million adults worldwide -- 21% of those polled -- desire to immigrate to the United States.


Gallup reported that 750 million adults worldwide (that is, 15%) told pollsters they want to move permanently to another country. The United States is the most-named destination. Gallup said 27% of adults in Latin America and the Caribbean say they want to move to another country, and that total reaches 52% of adults in El Salvador, 47% in Honduras.


Gallup doesn’t say what share of those large percentages specifically want to emigrate to the United States. But the polling organization estimates that if all adults worldwide could migrate as they wish, the U.S. adult population would rise by 46%. You can see Gallup’s result here.