Get PolitiFact in your inbox.
If Your Time is short
It is impossible to know how many people crossed the U.S. border illegally in August 2023 because Customs and Border Protection data does not count individuals.
Still, even the closest measure of accounting for migrants who illegally crossed the U.S. border is significantly lower than births recorded within the United States in August 2023.
No spin, just facts you can trust. Here's how we do it.
With ominous music playing in the background, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson presented his latest minidocumentary titled "The Invasion." In it, Carlson warns about massive demographic changes in the United States that he says are orchestrated by politicians. As he narrates, images of migrants sleeping on sidewalks and in public facilities such as airports and police stations across the U.S. scroll past.
Carlson paints a gloomy picture and makes several claims, including that, "In August 2023, illegal immigration outpaced American births." The claim is included in an excerpt from a video that was shared Jan. 17 on Facebook.
"It is ending: the country you grew up in no longer exists. Soon it would be unrecognizable," Carlson says. "Americans are being replaced. That is not a conspiracy theory, it is a fact."
It is a nod to the "great replacement theory," a debunked conspiracy theory that claims Democrats and other people in power are replacing white people of European descent with nonwhite immigrants. The theory has been referenced by some mass shooters in the U.S. and abroad.
The Carlson video focuses on Chicago, which has struggled to house arriving migrants. Carlson said U.S. cities "are hellish and immigration is the reason."
The Facebook video was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
PolitiFact asked the Tucker Carlson Network for evidence for this claim but did not receive a response.
In the Facebook video, Carlson refers to a chart around the one-minute mark that shows U.S. births versus migrants illegally entering the U.S. under both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. The chart is attributed to an X account with username @fentasyl that identifies itself by the name "datahazard." The version that Carlson shows does not include precise numbers of births or migrants, or months of the year. The X account has shared multiple versions of the chart, one time correcting itself about which month migrant encounters supposedly outpaced births.
A modified version of the same graph was reshared Dec. 29 by Elon Musk, CEO of X, who said he was reposting it "to give you a sense of the immense and growing size of illegal immigration!"
To check this claim, we compared nationwide August birth data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with August immigration data from Customs and Border Protection.
But encounters represent events and not people and are not a reliable way to determine how many people have crossed the border illegally. The same people can be counted more than once if they have tried to cross the border multiple times. Therefore, it’s not accurate to say that 304,073 migrants illegally entered the U.S. in August.
It is also impossible to accurately measure the number of people who have illegally crossed the U.S. border because border authorities don’t stop everyone.
The claim also fails to account for the 82,657 encounters that ended with people being removed or returned to their home countries, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees CBP.
U.S. August births were 322,000, and although federal immigration authorities counted 304,073 encounters with migrants entering the U.S. illegally that month, that number includes events and not people.
We rate the claim that "in August 2023, illegal immigration outpaced American births" False.
PolitiFact Staff Writer Maria Ramirez Uribe contributed to this report.
Tucker Carlson, Facebook post, Jan. 17, 2024
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Provisional Natality, 2023 through Last Month Maps, accessed Jan. 22, 2024
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Vital Statistics System: State and National Provisional Counts, accessed Jan. 22, 2024
PolitiFact, What is the ‘great replacement theory’ linked to the Buffalo shooter?, May 16, 2022
X post, Datahazard (@fentasyl), (archived link) Dec. 29, 2023
X post, Elon Musk, (archived link) Dec. 29, 2023
Verify, Claim about influx of undocumented migrants outpacing American births is misleading, Jan. 18, 2024
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Nationwide Encounters, accessed Jan. 22, 2024
YouTube, CBP Field Operations: Protecting America 24/7, Jun. 15, 2011
PolitiFact, The missing facts from Nikki Haley’s claim about border crossings and deportations under Joe Biden, Jan. 11, 2024
Chicago Tribune, Editorial: ‘Yurt’ cities run by private security, possibly coming to a neighborhood near you. What could go wrong?, Sep. 21, 2023
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration enforcement and legal processes monthly tables, accessed Jan. 24, 2024
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.