E.g., 12/08/2016
E.g., 12/08/2016

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

Donald Trump has made a series of postelection statements suggesting he may backtrack on several campaign pledges on immigration, including building a wall across the entire U.S.-Mexico border and deporting all 11 million unauthorized immigrants. Still, his choice of top advisors points to a hard-line agenda. This Policy Beat article examines what some of the better known elements of Trump's immigration policy might look like.

Although the number of U.S. residents who speak a language other than English has grown in recent decades, the share of those who are Limited English Proficient (LEP) has fallen: 40 percent in 2015, compared to 44 percent in 1980—even as immigration rose rapidly. This article examines growing linguistic diversity in the country and sketches a profile of the LEP population, including size, location, and socioeconomic characteristics.

Over the past decade, state and local policymakers have increasingly stepped into the void left by Washington over legislative reform of the immigration system and have enacted their own policies, particularly in regard to illegal immigration. This article explores this trend of increased activism and examines whether restrictive state immigration laws have had an effect on the size of immigrant populations at the state level.

In the wake of a hurricane that has once again devastated Haiti, the United States quickly reversed its toughened policy toward the thousands of Haitian nationals arriving at the California-Mexico border without prior authorization. This Policy Beat examines the shifts in U.S. admission and deportation policy toward Haitian migrants since the 2010 earthquake, and other national and state developments on immigration.

Approximately 511,000 foreign-born veterans of the U.S. armed forces resided in the United States in 2016, accounting for 3 percent of the 18.8 million veterans nationwide. This Spotlight article offers key information on the population of immigrant veterans in the United States, focusing on its size, top countries of origin, racial and ethnic composition, and socioeconomic characteristics.

With weeks to spare, the Obama administration met its goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of September 2016, and announced plans to increase the overall refugee ceiling to 110,000 in fiscal 2017. However, opposition continues to mount in Congress, statehouses, and on the campaign trail, with Republicans citing security concerns in calling for lower numbers or additional screening, as this article explores.

The Head Start program—a model for early childhood education programs nationwide—has served more than 33 million children since its inception half a century ago, many from immigrant families. This article examines the role of Head Start in the education of Dual Language Learners, who now comprise one-third of enrollees, and discusses how recent policy changes may affect this population.

More than 653,000 immigrants became U.S. citizens in fiscal year 2014, bringing the total number of naturalized U.S. citizens to 20 million—nearly half the overall immigrant population of 42.4 million. Over the past decade, naturalizations have ranged from about 537,000 yearly to just more than 1 million. Learn more about naturalization trends in the United States with this Spotlight article.

The stark contrast between the Republican and Democratic parties on immigration was codified in their 2016 party platforms, and showcased in the rosters of convention speakers—featuring victims of unauthorized immigrant crimes on the one hand, and unauthorized immigrants living in fear on the other. This article explores the evidence, even compared to earlier platforms, of two divergent universes regarding immigration.

The Brazilian immigrant population in the United States doubled during the 1980s and almost tripled in the 1990s, but stabilized following the Great Recession. While this population has long included a significant share of unauthorized immigrants, Brazilians are increasingly coming to the United States through family, employment, and study channels. Learn more about Brazilian immigrants with this Spotlight.

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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

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
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
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.

Reports
March 2016

This study reveals the challenges and successes of collaboration between refugee resettlement services and Head Start, and demonstrates that increasing the Early Head Start and Head Start enrollment of young children in refugee families is possible through intersectoral collaboration. The report focuses on study sites in Phoenix, AZ and Syracuse, NY.

Reports
March 2016

In an attempt to fill the knowledge gap on integration outcomes for children of refugees, this report presents a demographic and socioeconomic data profile of the 941,000 children ages 10 and younger with refugee parents living in the United States in 2009-2013.

Reports
March 2016

This report examines how refugee families in Massachusetts access early childhood education and care (ECEC) services for their children through the refugee resettlement system. It examines how working parents in refugee families navigate and make use of ECEC services and looks at the institutional and systemic challenges that refugee families face in accessing stable, high-quality ECEC options.

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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
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.

Fact Sheets
June 2015

While English Language Learner (ELL) students are spread throughout the United States, their density, or the share they represent of total public school enrollment, varies greatly by state. This fact sheet, drawing upon data from the U.S. Department of Education, examines the states and districts with the highest shares and populations of ELL students and offers a detailed breakdown of some key statistics.

Fact Sheets
July 2014
MPI has produced profiles of 15 diaspora communities in the United States, gathering in one place key demographic data and analysis on diasporas from Bangladesh, Colombia, El Salvador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The profiles examine population size, educational attainment, household income, employment patterns, geographic distribution, and remittance volume.
Fact Sheets
May 2014

In a series of fact sheets focusing on the United States and a dozen key states, MPI assesses the extent of “brain waste”—that is, the number of college-educated immigrant and native-born adults ages 25 and older who are either unemployed or have jobs that are significantly below their education and skill levels.

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Policy Briefs
April 2005

Although federal statute affords “the privilege of being represented,” to immigrants in removal proceedings, appointed counsel must be “at no expense to the government.” This report analyzes the “no expense” restriction and its effect on case outcomes. It then outlines a number of ways in which legal representation could be increased without significant federal funding.

Policy Briefs
October 2007

This report explores the proposed implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s new guidance which mandates employers who receive “no match” letters to determine the source of the discrepancy, take steps to resolve it within 90 days, and if this isn't possible, terminate the employee.

Policy Briefs
January 2014
This policy brief traces the successes and failures of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which represented the first and most comprehensive legislation to take on the issue of illegal immigration to the United States. The brief makes the case that IRCA's major flaws were rooted in statutory design more than regulatory challenges and implementation by the administrative agencies.
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.

Pages

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.