E.g., 09/03/2015
E.g., 09/03/2015

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 Central American immigrant population in the United States has grown dramatically since 1980 to reach 3.2 million or 7 percent of the country's total foreign-born population. Central Americans were significantly less educated, but more likely to be employed than all immigrants and U.S. born. From income to health coverage and more, this Spotlight explores key indicators of the Central American immigrant population.

The killing of a young woman in San Francisco by an unauthorized immigrant coincided with the Obama administration's rollout of the Priority Enforcement Program, a new vehicle for improving federal-local relations on immigration enforcement. The tragedy has rekindled debate over the role of "sanctuary" cities and propelled illegal immigration to the forefront of the 2016 presidential race.

This article explores differences in application and renewal rates for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program among unauthorized immigrants from Latin America and Asia. Based on interviews with immigrant advocates and service providers, it appears participation in the deportation relief program may be different among origin groups based on varying perceptions of lack of trust in government and shame over legal status, as well as political barriers.

While many countries are increasing engagement with their diasporas, U.S. policy has chiefly focused on U.S.-based diasporas from other countries, despite its own estimated overseas population of 7.6 million. This feature explores results from a survey of more than 1,400 U.S. citizens and 140 former citizens living abroad, many of whom are critical of limited U.S. government engagement with them even as restrictive financial reporting regulations have been imposed.

With more than 1.8 million immigrants living in the United States, the Philippines was the fourth largest country of origin in 2013. Filipino immigrants stand out from other top immigrant groups with their unique historical experience as former nationals due to U.S. annexation of the Philippines in 1899, close historic ties to the U.S. military, and prevalence in health-care professions.

In 2013, more than 25 million people in the United States reported limited English proficiency (LEP), an 80 percent increase since 1990. The LEP population, the majority of which is immigrant, is generally less educated and more likely to live in poverty than the English-proficient population. This Spotlight explores key indicators of the LEP population, both U.S. and foreign born, including geographic distribution, language diversity, and employment.

As legal challenges continue to impede President Obama's deferred action programs to protect millions of unauthorized immigrants from deportation, it is becoming increasingly clear that the window of opportunity for implementation before the 2016 election is growing ever narrower. Even as advocates continue mobilizing immigrants to apply, attention is shifting to other new policies announced by the president last November.

Immigration to the United States from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has increased in recent years, rising to a total population of 1.02 million in 2013. Immigrants from the region come from a diverse range of countries and cultures. This data Spotlight delves into the variations among MENA groups on key socioeconomic indicators, from geographic distribution and language proficiency to employment, immigration pathways, and naturalization.

Mexico has lost its long-held status as the top source country of new immigrants to the United States, dropping to third place behind China and India. This historic shift is remarkable for the rapid decline in Mexican inflows combined with a steady rise in Asian immigration, largely through high-skilled visa programs. This Policy Beat explores the reasons behind these trends and their potential impact on U.S. demographics.

Indian immigrants represent the second-largest origin group in the United States, accounting for 4.7 percent of the total foreign-born population. Generally high-skilled and highly educated, more than half of Indian immigrants have arrived since 2000 and largely attain green cards through employment-based pathways. Indians account for 70 percent of H-1B petitions and are the second-largest group of international students in the United States.

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
July 2015

This report analyzes how many unauthorized immigrants fall within Department of Homeland Security priority enforcement categories unveiled in November 2014 and how implementation of these priorities could affect the number of deportations from within the United States. The report also examines the replacement of the controversial Secure Communities with a new Priority Enforcement Program, and what PEP could mean for immigration enforcement.

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.

Pages

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

MPI 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. 

This fact sheet is formatted as a chart comparing the framework of comprehensive immigration reform outlined in the 2013 Senate immigration bill against provisions included in bills considered by the Senate 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.

Pages

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.

Download Brief
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
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.

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.

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. 

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.