FACT CHECK: Do 179 Million Latin Americans Want To Migrate To The US?

David Sivak | Fact Check Editor

Conservative commentator and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich claimed that 179 million Latin Americans would like to migrate to the U.S.

“I think the average person, look, they’re – Gallup did a survey – 179 million people in Latin America would like to come to the United States,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Verdict: False

Gallup estimates that 147 million people around the globe want to migrate to the U.S., and of those, 37 million are from Latin America.

Fact Check:

Gingrich made the claim while discussing a caravan of Central American migrants that has been making its way to the U.S. The caravan has become a flashpoint issue ahead of the midterm elections for Republicans who insist that more needs to be done to secure the Southern border.

“Now, at what point do we draw a number? And when you draw the number – I don’t care how big it is – Nancy Pelosi can say, ‘Oh, I will take 12 million.’ Fine,” said Gingrich. “Is she then going to control the border? Is she then going to confront people?”

He cited Gallup for the 179 million figure, but a spokesperson for the polling agency provided The Daily Caller with a much lower estimate – 37 million. TheDC contacted Gingrich, who said that he misread a 2017 Gallup survey.

From 2013 to 2016, Gallup conducted interviews with nearly 600,000 adults in 156 countries to gauge how many people globally would like to move to another country. “Ideally, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move permanently to another country, or would you prefer to continue living in this country?” they asked.

Nearly 710 million people worldwide expressed a desire to relocate, and 147 million of those people named the U.S. as where they’d like to live, the most of any country. “The main draws to America appear to be two things: People know someone living here or they are looking for a good job,” writes Gallup.

A substantial percentage of Latin Americans, particularly Central Americans, would like to relocate to the U.S. Gallup reported that 30 percent of Hondurans, 24 percent of Salvadorans and 17 percent of Guatemalans wanted to move.

But only a quarter of the 147 million potential migrants estimated by Gallup are from Latin America. They found that, among other countries, 16 million people from China, 15 million from India, 8 million from Ethiopia and 7 million from Nigeria would move to the U.S.

The numbers are especially high for China and India because they have the world’s largest populations, totaling 2.7 billion in 2017. Only 1 percent to 2 percent of people in those countries expressed a desire to relocate to the U.S.

Gallup, as well as multiple immigration experts, stressed that just because a person says they would like to relocate doesn’t mean that he or she would actually do so. “It’s widely recognized that many wouldn’t,” Donald Kerwin, executive director for the Center for Migration Studies of New York, told TheDC.

Nearly 400,000 migrants were apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Southwest border in fiscal year 2018.

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David Sivak

Fact Check Editor
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