E.g., 02/21/2017
E.g., 02/21/2017

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

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migration shifts at the U.S.-Mexico border have been obscured by talk of walls and further border security: Mexicans no longer represent the top unauthorized crossers, replaced by Central Americans seeking protection, and flows are diversifying with increased arrivals of Cubans, Haitians,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.

More than 18,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the United States since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011. Nearly half of Syrian refugees are under age 14, and this population is more dispersed geographically across the country than the overall Syrian immigrant population. This article offers a demographic profile of Syrian refugees, including age, gender, language, and religion, as well as top state and city destinations.

More than 1 million international students were in the United States in 2015-16, a significant share of them in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields. While countries increasingly are vying for this population, these individuals face a complex choice upon graduation: to stay or leave? This article examines international STEM students in the United States and the motivations underlying their postgraduation plans.

With the incoming Trump administration pledging a crackdown on illegal immigration, construction of border walls, reductions in refugee and immigrant admissions, and greater screening of newcomers, U.S. immigration policy is likely to significant change. With Republicans holding the White House and both chambers of Congress at least through 2018, conditions may be favorable for a major transformation of the U.S. immigration system, as this Top 10 article explores.

The success of populist movements on both sides of the Atlantic in 2016, including Donald Trump's victory in the United States and the United Kingdom's vote to quit the European Union, have sparked an identity crisis in the West. Campaigns effectively tapped into the anxieties of voters who feel left behind by societal change and out-of-touch elites, while normalizing anti-immigrant rhetoric in mainstream discourse, as this Top 10 article explores.

While Europe and the United States saw terror attacks in 2016 carried out by radicalized immigrants or members of the second generation, policy responses varied on either side of the Atlantic. The perceived security threat posed by refugees was the main concern in the United States. Meanwhile, European debates centered more on concerns over loss of control of migration flows and lack of social cohesion.

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.

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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

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
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
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
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.

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.

Pages

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.

Policy Briefs
July 2016

Twenty-five years after enactment of the Immigration Act of 1990, the law remains the framework for the current U.S. legal immigration system. This issue brief examines the legislation, which sought to admit more immigrants based on their skills and education, finding it has only modestly increased the employment-based immigration share. The law also created the diversity visa program and Temporary Protected Status.

Policy Briefs
November 2005

This brief provides a historical overview of various attempts at implementing workplace enforcement in the United States before arguing in favor of a process not unlike credit-card verification that allows employers to swipe a card at the point of hire and receive a response in real time from the Social Security Administration informing them whether an employee is authorized to work in the United States.

Policy Briefs
November 2010

This brief argues that an essential first step to any type of U.S. legalization must be a registration process that rapidly identifies, screens, and processes potential applicants. The government could successfully administer a large-scale legalization only with a well-crafted bill, sufficient funding, an unprecedented mobilization of public and private stakeholders, and intensive planning. 

Policy Briefs
August 2016

At the fourth anniversary of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, this issue brief describes the populations eligible for DACA as of 2016; discusses recent policy developments; presents trends in DACA requests and application rates nationwide, by state, and for top countries of origin; and examines the impacts that DACA has had on qualifying young unauthorized immigrants.

Policy Briefs
November 2005

This report provides an overview of United States border enforcement throughout the 20th century, highlights how it has changed since the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act nearly two decades ago, and further examines its unprecedented expansion in the aftermath of 9/11. The author concludes with a set of policy questions.

 

Policy Briefs
December 2010

This policy brief shows that more unauthorized immigrants in the United States have been legalized through population-specific and registry programs than through the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act general legalization provisions.

Policy Briefs
February 2017

This fact sheet examines key provisions of President Trump's recent executive order suspending travel from certain majority-Muslim countries and pausing the U.S. refugee resettlement program, comparing them to current and earlier policy and practice. The fact sheet, presented in an easy-to-use side-by-side chart, gives context to the executive order, which has drawn major public and legal scrutiny.

Policy Briefs
November 2005

This policy brief examines the flaws in the United States’ existing employer sanctions regime and proposes six types of reform that could strengthen the system: improvements to document security, document consolidation, mandatory use of employment databases, increased enforcement staffing, a revised penalty structure, and better worksite access for investigators.

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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.