E.g., 10/25/2014
E.g., 10/25/2014

Country Resource - United States

United States

US
  • Population.....................................................................318,892,103 (July 2014 est.)
  • Population growth rate ..............................................................0.77% (2014 est.)
  • Birth rate....................................................13.42 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
  • Death rate...................................................8.15 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
  • Net migration rate................................2.45 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 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 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, with three cases diagnosed in the United States, has generated tremendous public fear and anxiety in the United States and other countries. The Obama administration has restricted air travel from West Africa to five airports with enhanced screening, amid calls for a complete travel ban. The Policy Beat examines the use of U.S. immigration controls to halt the spread of disease.

Recent surges in the arrival of unauthorized migrants with possible humanitarian claims have prompted the United States and the European Union to consider in-country and offshore processing for some refugee and asylum applications. As this article explores, some of the questions raised about the feasibility of such programs include their consistency with humanitarian law and their effectiveness in reducing unwanted entries.

In 2013, 11.6 million Mexican immigrants resided in the United States, accounting for 28 percent of the total foreign-born population, making Mexicans the largest immigrant group in the country. Using the latest data, this Spotlight examines the Mexican immigrant population by size, location, language ability, workforce participation, and more.

Drawing on a case study of two Hmong refugee populations from Laos that were resettled in a major Texas city and a German village, this article explores the different approaches to immigrant integration found in the United States and Germany as well as the outcomes for the Hmong and their sense of belonging in their new communities.

As Central American child migrant flows have returned to their precrisis level, challenges remain concerning the fate of tens of thousands of newly arrived children and families now residing in the United States pending immigration court hearings. Meanwhile, Congress has declined to authorize new funding to address the situation.

Between 1960 and 2012 the share of Canadians in the U.S. foreign-born population declined from 10 to 2 percent, while the actual number of Canadian immigrants has remained remarkably steady. Using the most up-to-date statistics, this profile examines the Canadian immigrant population by size, age, location, college education, and more.

Vietnamese Shopping Center in Virginia

The once-tiny population of Vietnamese immigrants in the United States has grown to become the country’s sixth largest foreign-born group in the span of several decades, with the first wave beginning at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. This data profile examines the Vietnamese immigrant population by size, recency of arrival, top states and cities of settlement, college education, sending of remittances, and much more.

When Congress returns from recess in September, lawmakers will need to pick up where they left off on approving an emergency spending bill to address unaccompanied migrant children at the border. This article previews upcoming battles in Congress and analyzes how the recent border crisis is changing the broader immigration debate in the United States.

From a massive typhoon in the Philippines last November to the ongoing civil war in Syria, recent global events demonstrate that natural disasters and political strife occur suddenly and often without warning. This article examines the U.S. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program that grants humanitarian relief to nationals of certain countries embroiled in violent conflict or recovering from natural disaster.

The phenomenon of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, typically after an arduous and often dangerous journey through Central America and Mexico, has reached a crisis proportion, with a 90 percent spike in arrivals from last year and predictions of future increases ahead.

Pages

Reports
September 2006

The culminating report of the Independent Task Force on Immigration and America’s Future seeks to design a new and simplified immigration regime that averts illegal immigration, and at the same time, harnesses the benefits of immigration for the future.

Reports
June 2009

This report examines the funding formula used to distribute Workforce Investment Act Title II federal funds for adult education, literacy, and English as a Second Language instruction, and argues that the formula fails to account for the size and needs of adults with limited English proficiency.

Reports
September 2010

Despite conventional wisdom that the U.S. immigrant workforce is shaped like an hourglass—wide at the top and the bottom but narrow in the middle— in reality immigrants are more evenly dispersed across the skills spectrum. This report shows that the fastest growth in immigrant employment since 2000 has occurred in middle-skilled jobs.

Reports
July 2011

The United States has historically offered unparalleled economic opportunity to successive generations of immigrants and their children, poised to play an increasing role in the U.S. economy. But the lasting impact of job loss and slower growth over the next decade will translate into fewer opportunities for workers—and immigrants may prove the most vulnerable.

Reports
January 2013

This report examines trends in manufacturing – with a focus on advanced manufacturing – in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and the United States. Although these countries’ manufacturing histories and contexts are different, the sectors are increasingly interdependent, and the sector potentially holds great promise for improving individual livelihoods and overall regional competitiveness.

Reports
March 2014

This report analyzes the educational experiences and outcomes of immigrant youth ages 16 to 26 across Georgia's education systems, encompassing K-12, adult, and postsecondary. By examining these interconnected systems together, the analysis offers linked strategies for advancing the educational attainment of Georgia’s immigrant youth.

Reports
August 2011

This report reviews the history of immigration legislation since 9/11, the new enforcement mandates that arose immediately afterward, and the unsuccessful efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform bills during the 109th and 110th Congresses.

Reports
September 2006

This report examines post-9/11 immigration enforcement practices in the United States through the lens of international human rights. It identifies gaps in the protection of noncitizens’ civil rights under U.S. constitutional law, and then evaluates whether post-9/11 U.S. immigration control measures have complied with obligations under international human rights law with respect to due process protections and the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of national origin or race.

Reports
June 2009

The discussion guide offers a brief demographic and statistical profile of the immigrant student population in the United States, with comparison points drawn to Germany, sketches the broad policy implications of the demographic data, and provides a set of policy and practice issues in immigrant education and integration to facilitate a Roundtable inquiry in two areas: early childhood care and education, and secondary education.

Reports
October 2010

Immigrants have been disproportionately hit by the global economic crisis that began in 2008 and now confront a number of challenges. The report, which has a particular focus on Germany, Ireland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and United States finds that the unemployment gap between immigrant and native workers has widened in many places.

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Fact Sheets
June 2007

This fact sheet compiles, in an easily comprehendible table, the security features of documents currently used by U.S. residents, including passports, Social Security cards, permanent residence cards, employment authorization cards, and state driver’s licenses.

Fact Sheets
April 2013

The Migration Policy Institute has completed an analysis of the major provisions in the 2013 framework, comparing them to provisions of the legislation the Senate considered in 2006 and 2007. 

Fact Sheets
September 2003

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, changes to visa policies, new security procedures, and measures to combat fraud contributed to a shift in the traditional composition of immigration flows. This report highlights recent data on immigrants to the U.S. and offers key analysis of what these figures mean in terms of U.S. policy.

Fact Sheets
June 2007

This fact sheet examines proposed changes to the United States’ family based immigration system under The Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2007.

Fact Sheets
March 2013

A timeline of key immigration laws and policy developments between 1986 and 2013.

Fact Sheets
October 2003

This fact sheet provides an estimate and brief description of the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States in 2003.

Fact Sheets
February 2008

This fact sheet examines the dramatic increase in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services processing times for naturalization applications resulting from an overall increase in applications during fiscal year 2007.

Fact Sheets
March 2013

A timeline of all major U.S. immigration laws from 1790 - 2013.

Fact Sheets
November 2003

Canada and Mexico’s importance to the United States is more than simply a border-state phenomenon. The trading relationship between United States and Canada represents the largest bilateral flow of income, goods, and services in the world. Meanwhile, Mexico is the United States’ second largest trading partner. Between NAFTA coming into effect and 2003, two-way trade between Canada and Mexico more than doubled.

Fact Sheets
October 2008

This fact sheet provides a demographic portrait of foreign-born veterans of the U.S. armed forces. By analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 American Community Survey, this fact sheet examines foreign-born veterans' countries of origin, states of residence, and periods of service.

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Policy Briefs
July 2006

This report provides a background for policy discussion on high-skilled immigration to the United States by presenting an occupational profile of foreign-born professionals and highlighting their contributions to the U.S. economy.

Policy Briefs
February 2011

An effective electronic eligibility verification system is an essential component of the U.S. immigration system, but questions as to whether the E-Verify employment verification system should be made mandatory remain. This report examines the strengths and weaknesses of E-Verify, and discusses proposals for reform.

Policy Briefs
September 2001

In the immediate aftermath of September 11, the U.S. government committed to increasing national security through every possible avenue. Although the most effective measures to combat terrorism will inevitably rely on intelligence, certain immigration programs and procedures can contribute to better intelligence and enhanced security.

Policy Briefs
August 2006

This report examines the debate over whether immigrants depress wages and displace native workers in the U.S. labor market. It provides an overview of research since the mid-1990s studying the impact of immigration on native wages and job displacement, and reviews additional factors that may affect labor markets.

Policy Briefs
March 2007

This brief investigates the relationship between immigration and the decline in both the overall number and share of native-born workers in the low-wage and lower-skilled labor force.

Policy Briefs
June 2002

For more than a century, policymakers and practitioners have debated the structure and purpose of the U.S. immigration system, but in the aftermath of recent breaches the momentum necessary for reform has arrived. A look at the challenges the INS faced and proposals and next steps.

Policy Briefs
October 2006

This report discusses the major features of the proposed 2006 DREAM Act and provides MPI’s estimates of the number of young persons likely to be eligible for immigration relief if the DREAM Act is signed into law.

Policy Briefs
June 2013

This brief examines how the Senate's 2013 comprehensive immigration reform legislation would reshape the legal immigration system through its admission policies and creation of a new merit-based visa stream and points-based system. It also offers estimates of future migration flows, where they can be determined.

Policy Briefs
April 2003

On November 25, 2002, Congress passed the Homeland Security Act, which effectively overhauled the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and called for a massive reorganization of immigration functions under the newly formed Department of Homeland Security (DHS).This report outlines key changes incurred, highlights points of concern and offers policy recommendations aimed at remedying some of these concerns.

Policy Briefs
May 2007

This report offers a series of original charts that depict the characteristics of recent immigrants who are representative of those likely to be affected by the proposed merit-based points system for selecting permanent immigrants to the United States.

Pages

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.

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.