Report: Nearly half a million illegal immigrants reside in NC

The U.S. side of a border wall between the United States and Mexico in Douglas, a city on the Mexican border in southeastern Arizona. (Library of Congress.

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  • Illegal immigration costs North Carolina taxpayers $3.14 billion or $779 per household annually.

This week the United States Senate is preparing to hear the House’s case for impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. On February 13, the Republican-led United States House of Representatives voted to impeach Mayorkas for “high crimes and misdemeanors” due to repeated failures to secure the nation’s southern border. Those failures are contributing to a growing illegal immigrant population in North Carolina.

This is only the second impeachment of a cabinet member in US history.

The Senate is returning from a two-week break and could hear the impeachment charges read on the chamber floor as early as Tuesday. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La, appointed the House members who are prosecutors in their case and has not yet announced the schedule.

“At every turn, Secretary Mayorkas has ignored statutes and undermined the rule of law. He has released illegal aliens into the U.S. instead of detaining and removing them,” said the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), in a press release praising the House’s action. “He has established permanent parole programs for hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals, violating the law that requires parole be granted temporarily and only on a case-by-case basis. He has allowed known terrorists and Special Interest Aliens to cross into the country unimpeded.”

FAIR studies the impact of illegal immigration on the United States and reports a costly impact from millions of illegal immigrants coming into the country since President Joe Biden took office. Mayorkas has admitted that 85% of the migrants being encountered at the southern border are being released into the country. 

FAIR’s June 2023 estimate shows that, currently, 16.8 million illegal immigrants live in the US. The 2023 cost study shows that 488,000 live in the Tar Heel State, along with their 169,000 US-born children.

The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on North Carolina. Used with permission by Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

Most come from Mexico, followed by Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and India, according to

The costs to support them are staggering. According to FAIR, in 2023, illegal immigration costs North Carolina taxpayers $3.14 billion or $779 per household annually, according to the Census Bureau’s number of households. Also:

  • Illegal immigrant households added 122,218 students to local schools.
  • The average cost to North Carolinians is $4,781 per illegal alien. 
  • Taxpayers are supporting education costs of $1.47 billion, police, legal, and corrections costs of $461.1 million, as well as healthcare, public assistance, and general government services expenses. 

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) annual report, nearly half of the 170,590 illegal immigrants arrested in the US in 2023 had multiple criminal charges and convictions. 

While enforcement arrests nearly doubled, including dozens of known or suspected terrorists, untold numbers of illegal immigrants are deemed “gotaways” who disappear into the nation’s interior.

Nationwide, the criminal aliens averaged four charges and convictions each, including over 33,200 charges or convictions for assault, 7,520 for weapons offenses, over 1,700 for homicide-related crimes, and over 1,600 for kidnapping. Removals also included 3,406 known or suspected gang members, 139 known or suspected terrorists, seven human rights violators, and 108 foreign fugitives wanted by their countries for crimes including homicide, rape, terrorism, and kidnapping.

When it comes to safety, North Carolinians are also paying the price, both financially and some, with their lives.

drug trafficking in North Carolina

The state has seen a surge in all types of crimes, but those with the most notoriety are human/sex trafficking and illegal drugs, most notably fentanyl. 

Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page, who is also running for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in the March 5 primary, was elected president of the North Carolina Sheriffs Association in 2010. Since then, he has made several trips to the Arizona and Mexico border, working with the Federation for American Immigration Reform and Center for Immigration Study. There he saw firsthand how the drug trafficking routes work.

He told Carolina Journal that drug overdoses, especially from fentanyl, have seen an uptick in the past five years and that the drugs are coming from the Mexican drug cartels, with members being arrested just north of his county and in Charlotte a few years ago.

“We need to get a handle on our border and to start focusing on the cartels and try to dismantle their operations like we did in Colombia back in the 80s and 90s,” he told CJ. “These guys are going to continue to be strong, and if they can’t move drugs, they move people. “They’re involved in human trafficking, drug smuggling, and human smuggling.” 

In 2023, more than 100,000 people died from fentanyl overdoses in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over the past nine years, more than 13,000 North Carolinians have died from overdosing on the drug. 

So far, in January 2024, there have been 332 fentanyl deaths in the state, a slight drop from 368 deaths in January 2023. 

Recently,  Operation Thunder on the Hill in Nash County, North Carolina, resulted in three arrests and seizure of 419 fentanyl pills, 68 grams of crack cocaine, and 490 grams of powder cocaine. The haul was likely headed to campuses and communities across the state. Investigators tracked this drug trafficking ring along I-95 in Rocky Mount for nearly two years.

In December, 14 members of a drug organization with ties to the Mexican cartels, Sinaloa and CJNG, were sentenced to years in prison. They trafficked 328 kilograms of cocaine, 26 kilograms of fentanyl, and a kilogram of heroin in the Charlotte area between 2017 and 2022. The illegal alien gang members were also charged with illegally possessing 60 firearms.

500 illegal immigrants released from jails

According to ICE data obtained by Charlotte’s WBTV news, in 2019 nearly 500 illegal immigrants were released from jails across the state despite administrative detainers filed against them by ICE. They were initially charged with sex offenses, kidnapping, arson, and homicide.

ICE often uses a detainer to keep undocumented immigrants in jail because removal from the country is a civil action and not a criminal matter.

ICE has repeatedly asked local jurisdictions to reconsider non-cooperation policies enacted in recent years because “those policies put politics before public safety and release criminals back into communities where they are free to reoffend,” including six of twelve criminal illegal immigrants arrested by ICE in September 2020, who had active ICE detainers.

House Bill 10, Require Sheriffs to Cooperate with ICE, which Page supported, would have required sheriffs to contact ICE if they cannot confirm the citizenship status of someone in their custody accused of serious felonies and violent crimes. Although it passed in the House in March, it ended in the Senate Rules Committee. 

“This unprecedented surge in illegal immigration isn’t an accident,” Eric Ruark, director of research for Numbers USA, a nonprofit that advocates for immigration restrictions, told Fox News. “It is the result of deliberate policy choices by the Biden administration.” 

Now, with falling poll numbers for his re-election and failed policies, Biden is looking at taking executive action to restrict the ability of illegals to claim asylum.

too little, too late?

“I’ll be honest with you, I think we’re in a worse situation than we were on 9/11,” Page told CJ.  

He said people from about 150 countries are coming into the US and are not being properly vetted, especially those on the Terrorist Watchlist, thanks in part to Title 42 ending last May.

“As a sheriff, I communicate with sheriffs across the country and across the state, and it’s not if we’re going to get hit,” he stated. “We’re going to get hit. It’s just when.”