E.g., 04/17/2014
E.g., 04/17/2014

Country Resource - United States

United States

US
  • Population.....................................................................316,668,567 (July 2013 est.)
  • Population growth rate ..............................................................0.9% (2012 est.)
  • Birth rate....................................................13.7 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
  • Death rate...................................................8.4 deaths/1,000 population (2012 est.)
  • Net migration rate................................3.62 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 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

In a decision that received little notice, the Supreme Court in mid-March declined to review federal appellate decisions that struck down controversial local immigration ordinances in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and Farmers Branch, Texas—bringing to a close a contentious chapter in immigration litigation. This article also explores President Obama’s decision to order a review of deportation policies, Chile’s admission into the Visa Waiver Program, and more.

The small window for enactment of a major U.S. immigration overhaul during 2014 seems to have closed. A trial balloon testing House Republicans’ willingness to proceed this year was quickly floated and dropped. Amid a focus on politics and timing, less noted was the reality that for the first time, House Republican leaders have affirmed support for a policy that would move the party closer to compromise over the most vexing question holding up immigration reform: what to do with the nation’s unauthorized immigrants.

While some argue that the clock has run out on immigration reform in the 113th Congress, which runs through 2014, others counter that the finish line remains in sight.

2013 proved a year of significant highs and lows in the quest to reform the U.S. immigration system, with enough political and legislative twists to keep even veteran observers of Congress guessing and leave politicians and pundits confused about the prospects for enacting reform in 2014.

More than 1 million people became lawful permanent residents (LPRs) of the United States in 2012, with family-sponsored immigrants accounting for two-thirds of those gaining a green card. This Spotlight examines federal statistics on foreign nationals who gained LPR status during 2012.

With the state of Alabama's recent legal settlement ensuring that key portions of its highly contested immigration enforcement law will never take effect, an important chapter of heightened activism by states in immigration enforcement has drawn to a near close. This article explores Alabama's decision, which traces its roots to the Supreme Court's 2012 ruling in Arizona v. United States, as well as the Infosys civil settlement with federal prosecutors over its use of foreign workers, new refugee admission numbers, extension of Temporary Protected Status for Somalis, and more.

About 757,000 immigrants took U.S. citizenship in 2012, a 9 percent increase from the year before. As of 2012, 46 percent of the nation’s 40.8 million immigrants were naturalized Americans. This article examines the latest naturalization data available for the United States, including historical trends, data by country of origin and state of residence, as well as socioeconomic characteristics of the 18.7 million naturalized U.S. citizens residing in the United States in 2012.

While budget issues and the debt ceiling dominated the congressional agenda and public attention last week, thousands of activists in Washington were stepping up civil disobedience and mobilization tactics to pressure lawmakers into voting to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. This article explores this growing trend and its possible implications for immigration reform in the 113th Congress. It also provides an update on other national, state, and local developments in immigration policy.

Immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region residing in the United States are part of a migration flow that dates back several decades. The highly diverse MENA immigrant population has grown from about 50,000 in 1920 to nearly 961,000 in 2012. This article examines the latest data on immigrants from the MENA region in the United States, including population size, geographic distribution, admission categories, and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

Iowa has just become the third state to gain access to federal SAVE immigration data for the purpose of removing noncitizens from its voter lists. This practice, which signifies a major departure from the system's intended purposes, comes amid renewed focus over voting rights. This article explores the recent surge in state activism regarding the possibility of noncitizen voting and also examines the current leadership vacuum in the Department of Homeland Security, new guidance for immigration benefits for same-sex couples, and more.

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Reports
October 2004

The 1990s marked a distinct shift in the destinations of newcomers to the United States from traditional reception cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston and increasingly towards small and medium sized-cities. In response to this shift, a unique pilot project conducted in three mid-sized metropolitan areas shows that broad-based community coalitions can proactively integrate newcomers who are increasingly transforming Main St., USA.

Reports
December 2007

This report provides a framework for assessing the legal validity of state legislative measures that address unauthorized immigration. To determine their validity, authors seek to establish whether Congress has preempted the law, and if not, whether these local laws exceed the bounds of constitutional authority by conflicting or interfering with existing federal regulatory regimes.

Reports
October 2009

This report analyzes 2008 census data, presents statistics about immigrant populations and their health coverage, and discusses these numbers in the context of health care reform proposals that directly affect immigrants and the overall U.S. population.

Reports
March 2011

In the absence of new U.S. immigration reform legislation, this report examines the opportunities that exist within the executive branch and the administration to refine and strengthen current U.S. immigration laws and policies. The administration can exercise its authority to field policies, programs, and procedures that are effective and fair in advancing the goals of the U.S. immigration system. 

Reports
April 2012

African immigrants generally fare well on integration indicators, with college completion rates that greatly exceed those for most other immigrant groups and U.S. natives, this report finds. The United States, Canada, and Australia disproportionally attract better-educated African migrants then do the United Kingdom, France, and other European countries.

Reports
January 2004

During the 1990s, NAFTA was promoted by both U.S. and Mexican officials as a means to spur economic growth and job creation in Mexico and thereby reduce the number of unauthorized migrants entering the U.S. from Mexico each year. This report takes a critical look at NAFTA’s impact on regulating migration from Mexico to the United States.

Reports
November 2004

This report investigates and addresses gaps in the data needs of immigrant service and advocacy organizations by surveying the most commonly used migration data sources in the field, discussing budget-conscious ways to commission customized analysis through government and private sources, and identifying good providers of training for staff. 

Reports
April 2008

This report examines the large presence of unauthorized and mixed-status families, and the growing size of the second generation and its concerns within Los Angeles County and in California, drawing comparisons to broader national demographic trends and rationales for immigrant integration.

Reports
October 2009

U.S. media coverage of immigration has hindered effective policy reform for years, a trend which has been exacerbated by the recent transformation in the ways Americans get their news. This has conditioned and even distorted public perceptions by portraying a largely gradual, orderly, and legal phenomenon as chaotic, criminal, and controversial.

Reports
March 2011

Information and technology are centerpieces of a new border architecture that seeks to respond to the competing demands of facilitating mobility and managing cross-border risks while remaining cost-efficient and respectful of rights and privacy. This report shows how governments must approach border management systems to ensure properly balanced development.
 

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Fact Sheets
May 2004

Immigrants often work in traditionally unionized sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing and construction, or in occupations, such as services, that are becoming increasingly organized—yet little is known about their patterns of union representation. This report offers insight into the union affiliation, including membership and non-member coverage, of employed immigrant workers age 16 and over.

Fact Sheets
December 2010

This fact sheet, based on analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey, documents the top languages spoken by English Language Learners (ELLs) nationwide and on a state level.

Fact Sheets
June 2004

This report examines health insurance coverage among the United States’ foreign-born population. Findings highlight differences in coverage rates between native citizens, naturalized foreign-born citizens, and non-citizens.

Fact Sheets
December 2011

The number of U.S. residents deemed Limited English Proficient (LEP) has increased substantially in recent decades, consistent with the growth of the U.S. foreign-born population. This brief offers analysis on the number, share, growth, and linguistic diversity of LEP individuals in the United States from 1990 to 2010 at the national, state, and metropolitan-area levels.

Fact Sheets
June 2005

This report examines the scope and extent of the United States immigration system’s chronic backlog problem by offering insight into factors that contribute to protracted processing delays for naturalization and permanent residency applications before highlighting the steps the government has taken to address the issue.

Fact Sheets
August 2012

This fact sheet provides an estimate of the number of DREAMers—unauthorized immigrants potentially eligible for a two-year reprieve from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative—based on eligibility criteria outlined by the Department of Homeland Security. It also offers a detailed analysis of the demographic characteristics of prospective beneficiaries.

Fact Sheets
October 2004

This fact sheet is an overview of U.S. immigration based on Fiscal Year 2003 data from the 2003 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, which was released in mid-September 2004 by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics.

Fact Sheets
February 2007

This fact sheet briefly summarizes the background and implications of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ proposal to increase immigration fees during the summer of 2007.

Fact Sheets
October 2005

This report examines the trilateral relationship between the United States, Canada, and Mexico in the decade since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and provides facts and figures relating to trade and migration among the three countries.

Fact Sheets
February 2013

El sector agrícola en los EE.UU., México y Centroamérica se encuentra en medio de una transformación desde hace décadas. La demanda para cultivos intensivos en mano de obra, es decir, frutas, nueces, verduras, melones y especialidades hortícolas, como flores y setas (productos FVH, por sus siglas en inglés), está aumentando junto con la población y el crecimiento de los ingresos en la región.

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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.

Policy Briefs
August 2013

This issue brief analyzes the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides a two-year reprieve from deportation for eligible unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children. The study finds that 49 percent of the eligible population had applied during the program's first year, and reveals wide variation in application rates across states and national-origin groups.

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
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
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.

Policy Briefs
July 2010

Slightly more than 2.1 million unauthorized immigrant youth and young adults could be eligible to apply for legal status under the 2010 DREAM Act, though historical trends indicate that perhaps fewer than 40 percent would obtain legal status because of a variety of limitations. This policy brief offers detailed estimates of potential DREAM Act beneficiaries.

Policy Briefs
November 2005

This report examines the sweeping changes in the way identity documents are issued and used under the REAL ID Act, an effort to enhance the security of identity documents in post-9/11 America. It takes a detailed look at how this legislation will affect document issuing agencies, state budgets, and the employment verification system, in addition to immigrants and citizens.

Policy Briefs
September 2010

Repealing birthright citizenship for U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants, a step discussed in some circles as a means to reduce illegal immigration, would significantly increase the size of the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States, from 11 million today to 16 million by 2050, this brief reveals.

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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
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
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
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.

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
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
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
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.