E.g., 06/25/2017
E.g., 06/25/2017

Country Resource - United States

United States

US
  • Population.....................................................................323,995,528 (July 2016 est.)
  • Population growth rate ..............................................................0.81% (2016 est.)
  • Birth rate....................................................12.5 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
  • Death rate...................................................8.2 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
  • Net migration rate................................3.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
  • Ethnic groups*..........white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate)
* Note: a separate listing for Hispanic is not included because the US Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean persons of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin including those of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican Republic, Spanish, and Central or South American origin living in the US who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.); about 15.1% of the total US population is Hispanic.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Immigration has contributed to many of the economic, social, and political processes that are foundational to the United States as a nation since the first newcomers arrived over 400 years ago. After brushes with immigration reform that began in 2001 and continued in 2006 and 2007, the United States seems to be on the threshold of overhauling the legal immigration system in the most substantive way since 1965. This article provides a comprehensive overview of major legislation and events affecting U.S. immigration throughout history, legal and illegal immigration flows, postrecession immigration trends, and more.

Recent Activity

A man speaks at a gathering of Muslims from across Michigan at the state Capitol.

A number of high-profile terrorist attacks in the West have raised questions about why geopolitical events sometimes trigger strong, violent reactions in certain diaspora communities, but not in others. What could be behind this divergence in responses? This article examines how Muslim communities in London and Detroit have reacted to conflict abroad, as well as the factors that drive reactive conflict spillover.

A sign at the Quebec border advises travelers to turn back and report to a port of entry.

Amid a sense of declining welcome in the United States, growing numbers of asylum seekers have crossed into Canada in recent months, entering illegally to take advantage of a loophole in the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement. The result? Refugee advocates and politicians in Canada are issuing growing calls to change or suspend the treaty. This article examines the treaty's history, effects, and current challenges.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the White House briefing room.

While Donald Trump often pledged as candidate to strip federal funding from jurisdictions—known as sanctuary cities—that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, no direct action blocking funding has yet occurred. Still, strong statements from the President and Attorney General have spurred a flurry of responses by state and local governments, some adjusting their policies to cooperate fully, others setting limits.

Guatemalan immigrants attend mass at a church in Los Angeles.

Central American migration to the United States began in large numbers in the 1980s, fueled by political instability, natural disaster, and economic hardship. Approximately 3.4 million Central Americans lived in the United States in 2015, primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Where they live in the United States, their English proficiency, legal status, immigration pathways, and more are covered in this article.

Beyond representing first steps on key campaign promises, President Trump's executive orders on immigration mandate sweeping data collection and reporting in ways that seek to underscore societal and economic costs with no countervailing attention to positive effects from immigration. This article explores the news-making machinery embedded in the orders and how the reporting requirements might help further the administration's agenda.

In 2015, 43.3 million immigrants lived in the United States, comprising 13.5 percent of the population. The foreign-born population grew more slowly than in prior years, up 2 percent from 2014. Get sought-after data on U.S. immigration trends, including top countries of origin, Mexican migration, refugee admissions, illegal immigration, health-care coverage, and much more in this Spotlight article.

The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to halt President Trump's controversial executive order on immigration and refugee resettlement has strong legal parallels to an earlier injunction, which blocked a very different Obama administration initiative on immigration two years ago in a challenge mounted by Republican governors. The two cases have brought new focus to the limits of executive authority in the immigration arena.

Two significant migration shifts at the U.S.-Mexico border have been obscured by talk of walls and further border security: Mexicans no longer represent the top unauthorized crossers, replaced by Central Americans seeking protection, and flows are diversifying with increased arrivals of Cubans, Haitians, Asians, and Africans. This article sketches the evolving trends, which have key implications for U.S. and regional migration policy.

Approximately 1 million Korean immigrants (overwhelmingly from South Korea) lived in the United States in 2015, representing 2.4 percent of the U.S. immigrant population. While earlier waves consisted largely of unskilled laborers and their families, contemporary Korean immigration boasts high socioeconomic standing and Koreans are generally considered among the most successful immigrant groups.

President Obama faced criticism over his administration's handling of immigration enforcement from both the left and the right, labeled "deporter in chief" even as he was also accused of lax enforcement. A closer examination of his administration's record paints a more nuanced picture. This article explores how immigration enforcement practices shifted to achieve two key goals over the course of the Obama era.

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Advances in U.S.-Mexico Border Enforcement: A Review of the Consequence Delivery System
Reports
May 2017

In its first systematic attempt to track the effectiveness of different removal and enforcement strategies that migrants face after being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Border Patrol in fiscal 2011 launched the Consequence Delivery System (CDS). This report examines the strengths and limitations of CDS, and finds that as stricter measures have been implemented, attempted re-entries have fallen.

A Revolving Door No More? A Statistical Profile of Mexican Adults Repatriated from the United States
Reports
May 2017

The revolving door of return migration is slowing significantly for Mexican adults deported or voluntarily returned by the U.S. government, with the number intending to attempt re-entry dropping 80 percent between 2005 and 2015. Drawing from an official survey of Mexican returnees, this report explores the years of residence repatriated Mexican adults spent in the United States, time in detention, and minor children left behind.

Reports
February 2017

Nearly 2 million college-educated immigrants in the United States, more than half coming with academic and professional credentials, are unable to fully utilize their professional skills and instead are stuck in low-skilled work or are unemployed. This report explores a range of programs and policies that are providing cutting-edge career navigation, relicensing, gap filling, and job search assistance to remedy this brain waste.

Reports
December 2016

Nearly 2 million immigrants with college degrees in the United States—one out of every four—are employed in low-skilled jobs or unable to find work. This report explores this skill underutilization, often referred to as brain waste, and offers the first-ever economic costs of underemployment for immigrants in the United States: More than $39 billion in forgone wages and a resulting $10 billion in unrealized tax receipts.

Reports
November 2016

Two-generation programs that weave together early childhood learning with adult-focused programs hold great potential to break cycles of intergenerational poverty for low-income parents with young children. Little research has been done on how these programs succeed with immigrant families. This report studies select programs and offers analysis of the sociodemographic characteristics of U.S. parents with young children.

Reports
November 2016

Refugee children are vulnerable to health and nutrition risks that can have long-term consequences for their development and well-being. This report examines the prevalence of malnutrition—from stunting and wasting to overweight and obesity—among refugee children from birth to age 10, using data from an overseas medical screening exam before they were resettled in Washington State between 2012 and 2014.

Reports
November 2016

Resettled African refugee women may experience particularly acute complications during pregnancy, birth, and the child's early infancy. Yet health care-providers and policymakers may not be aware of the particular challenges that these women and their children face. This report, examining women giving birth in Utah over a seven-year period, compares perinatal complications of the African born and a segment of the U.S. born.

Reports
October 2016

Somali and Bhutanese refugees are two of the largest groups recently resettled in the United States and Canada. This report examines factors that might promote or undermine the mental health and overall well-being of children of these refugees, with regard to factors such as past exposure to trauma, parental mental health, educational attainment, social support, and discrimination.

Reports
August 2016

With English Learners (ELs) representing nearly 10 percent of U.S. elementary and secondary students, many school districts are struggling to develop the capacity to meet the needs of children from immigrant and refugee backgrounds. This study provides an overview of supplementary funding mechanisms to improve EL outcomes, examining policies at state and local levels, and making recommendations for improvement.

Reports
June 2016

This report sheds light on supplementary funding mechanisms targeted to migrant-background students in four countries—Canada, France, Germany, and the United States—and some of the key challenges and strategies decisionmakers face as they attempt to ensure that additional resources are used effectively to remedy the achievement gaps that immigrant and refugee students often confront.

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The First 100 Days: Summary of Major Immigration Actions  Taken by the Trump Administration
Fact Sheets
April 2017

During his first 100 days in office, President Trump has taken a sweeping set of actions on immigration, ranging from imposing a travel ban to cutting refugee admissions, "extreme" vetting, and fortifying immigration enforcement at the border and in the U.S. interior. This fact sheet examines the major immigration actions taken to date, legal challenges, and related policy and personnel developments.

Fact Sheets
March 2017

These fact sheets provide a sketch of key characteristics of the foreign-born and English Learner (EL) populations in select states. The fact sheets look at the demographics of these states, discuss EL student outcomes as measured by standardized tests, and conclude with an overview of state accountability mechanisms that affect ELs under relevant provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act and predecessor No Child Left Behind Act.

Fact Sheets
December 2016

Across the United States, nearly 2 million immigrants with college degrees are unemployed or stuck in low-skilled jobs. This skill underutilization, also known as “brain waste,” varies significantly by state. These fact sheets offer a profile of these highly skilled immigrants and estimate their forgone earnings and resulting unrealized tax receipts in seven key states: California, Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.

Fact Sheets
December 2016

These fact sheets provide a sociodemographic sketch of parents with children ages 0 to 8 in the 30 states with the largest number of immigrant families, offering data and analysis of some of the key parental characteristics to help stakeholders identify populations that could be targets for early childhood and parent-focused programs working to improve child and parent outcomes.

Fact Sheets
October 2016

The immigrant population in the Kansas City region has grown rapidly over the past 25 years, contributing to overall population growth in the area. This fact sheet describes immigrants in the metro area, examining their origins, industries of employment, income and poverty levels, English proficiency, educational attainment, and more.

Fact Sheets
April 2016

As federal and state governments ramp up efforts to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, these fact sheets compare key characteristics of the foreign born and the U.S. born that are relevant to understanding needs for adult education and workforce training services. The fact sheets cover the United States, the 20 states and 25 counties with the largest immigrant populations, and New York City.

Fact Sheets
January 2016

This fact sheet uses U.S. and Mexican apprehensions data to trace the evolving trends in unaccompanied child and family migration from Central America through Mexico and to the United States, and discusses the push factors and pull factors responsible for the increase in flows seen in recent years, as well as the growing role of smuggling organizations.

Fact Sheets
January 2016

Growing up with unauthorized immigrant parents puts children—nearly 80 percent of whom were born in the United States—at a disadvantage, with lower preschool enrollment, reduced socioeconomic progress, and higher rates of linguistic isolation and poverty. This fact sheet examines the number, characteristics, and socioeconomic status of children, both U.S.-citizen and noncitizen, who have unauthorized immigrant parents.

Fact Sheets
October 2015

This fact sheet offers some key facts about the U.S. refugee resettlement program, which is the world's largest. It answers key questions such as how refugees fare in the labor market in the United States, how the current refugee admissions ceiling stacks up historically, and the types of screening would-be refugees go through before they are admitted to the United States.

Fact Sheets
June 2015

This fact sheet, drawing upon data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey and the U.S. Department of Education, describes the home languages spoken by English Language Learner (ELL) students at national and state levels, providing the top five languages by state.

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Policy Briefs
June 2005

This brief outlines the framework for MPI’s Independent Task Force on Immigration and America’s Future and highlights key issues in U.S. immigration policy it seeks to inform: upholding rule of law; developing policies that meet immigration/national security needs; managing immigration to increase economic competitiveness; and promoting economic and social integration. 

Policy Briefs
July 2008

This brief takes a look at hometown associations (HTAs)—immigrant organizations based on a common hometown—and their often overlooked function as integration intermediaries in their country of destination.

Policy Briefs
September 2014
In the absence of legislative movement to reform the U.S. immigration system, the Obama administration is considering executive action to provide relief from deportation to some of the nation's estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants. This issue brief examines a number of scenarios for possible executive action, estimating how many people could benefit.
Policy Briefs
June 2005

This policy brief examines the “twilight status” or the de facto partial recognition of two particular categories of immigrants within the United States’ broader undocumented population: those with legally recognized claims to eventual lawful permanent resident status; and those with legally recognized temporary statuses.

Policy Briefs
September 2008

This report provides an overview of the citizenship test redesign process, reviews limited data on applicant test performance during pilot testing, and provides policy recommendations for moving forward.

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Policy Briefs
August 2015

With August 2015 marking the three-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, this issue brief examines the status of DACA renewal applications and adjudications, the consequences of failing to renew on time, and issues affecting renewal rates. As of March 2015, 83 percent of those eligible to renew their initial DACA grant had applied to do so—proof of the program's high value to recipients, the authors find.

Policy Briefs
August 2005

The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was the first legislative attempt to comprehensively address the issue of unauthorized immigration. The bill included sanctions against employers for the hiring of undocumented migrants, more robust border enforcement, and an expansive legalization program that was unprecedented.

Policy Briefs
September 2008

This report provides a global look at circular migration experiences, depicts various governments’ attempts at creating circular migration, evaluates the economic costs and benefits of circular migration for sending and receiving countries, identifies components of effective bilateral agreements, and reviews outcomes governments might realistically expect from their circular migration policies.

Policy Briefs
October 2015

More than 77,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America were released to communities throughout the United States between October 1, 2013 and August 31, 2015. This issue brief examines where these children have been placed in the United States, how they are faring in the immigration court system, and how schools are adapting to their arrival.

Policy Briefs
September 2005

This policy brief examines and reflects upon lessons learned from the last major attempt to resolve the problem of illegal immigration under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Arguing that stable reform will require three “E”’s— enforcing immigration laws effectively, expanding visas, and earning legal status —it also offers recommendations for immigration policymaking and management.

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Books
July 2013

This edited volume develops a pragmatic approach to the engagement of highly skilled members of the diaspora for the benefit of their countries of origin. The book, edited by a World Bank senior economist, is based on empirical work in middle-income and high-income economies.

Books
March 2013

This volume, which brings together research by leading economists and labor market specialists, examines the role immigrants play in the U.S. workforce, how they fare in good and bad economic times, and the effects they have on native-born workers and the labor sectors in which they are engaged. The book traces the powerful economic forces at play in today’s globalized world and includes policy prescriptions for making the American immigration system more responsive to labor market needs.

Books
December 2012

This interdisciplinary volume examines the health, well-being, school readiness, and academic achievement of children in Black immigrant families (most with parents from Africa and the Caribbean)—a population that has had little academic attention even as it represents an increasing share of the U.S. Black child population.

Books
September 2011

This edited volume rigorously assesses the 1996 U.S. welfare reform law, questions whether its immigrant provisions were ever really necessary, and examines its impact on legal immigrants’ ability to integrate into American society.

Books
June 2011

This edited volume addresses the impact of the economic crisis in seven major immigrant-receiving countries: the United States, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. 

Books
April 2010

This volume, by a former senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, argues that the U.S. approach to immigration and border security is off-kilter and not keeping pace with the scope and complexity of people’s movement around the world, nor with expectations regarding freedom of movement.

Books
January 2010

The book focuses on three case studies: the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. The volume includes chapters analyzing public opinion and media coverage of immigration issues in each country. Additional chapters propose strategies for unblocking opposition to thoughtful, effective immigration-related reforms.

Books
February 2007

Securing the Future seeks to define what policymakers and scholars mean by integration while attempting to sketch the contours of U.S. integration policy. The volume reviews evidence of immigrants’ integration by examining the progress of the second generation, as well as trends in education, health, the workforce, and citizenship.

Books
May 2005

Over the past four years, the United States has resettled far fewer refugees than it did in the 1990s. The decline has stemmed partly from post-9/11 security measures. But this book explains other, deeper reasons, deriving from changes in how and why refugees move, how asylum states receive them, and the world community's response. It also suggests steps to restore the program and better address real refugee needs.