E.g., 07/28/2015
E.g., 07/28/2015

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

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.

The H-2B visa allows U.S. employers to bring in foreign workers to temporarily fill low-skill nonagricultural jobs across a wide range of states and industries. A series of recent legal challenges has exposed the presence of fraud and abuse, while stripping the program of its regulations and raising uncertainty about its future. This Policy Beat examines the implications in the debate surrounding temporary worker programs.

Cuban immigrants are afforded a special place in U.S. immigration law, with most able to gain permanent residency after one year in the country. Following a history of surges in maritime migration, more than 1.1 million Cuban immigrants resided in the United States in 2013, accounting for about 3 percent of the total foreign-born population. This article explores key characteristics of Cubans in the United States, including educational attainment, income, and more.

Immigrant women constitute a varied and dynamic population in the United States with 51 percent or 21.2 million of the country's total foreign-born population. Examining key gender-based socioeconomic indicators from origin and fertility to educational attainment and immigration status, this Spotlight raises implications for sending and receiving countries, with respect to labor opportunities, family structure, gender roles, and more.

Attention is now squarely focused on the U.S. federal courts where the legal battle over President Obama's executive actions on immigration continues. While congressional efforts to roll back the directives appear to have been put aside, at least temporarily, implementation of the signature deferred action programs announced in November 2014 remains blocked. The administration, however, is moving forward with other aspects of the executive order, as this article explores.

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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
May 2009

This policy paper proposes creation of a permanent, independent executive-branch agency that would make regular recommendations to the president and Congress for adjusting employment-based immigration levels.The Standing Commission concept, first articulated by the MPI-convened Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future in its 2006 final report, would provide timely, evidence-based and impartial analysis that is vital for informed policymaking. The bipartisan Standing Commission would be staffed by a professional corps of career economists, demographers and other social scientists.

Reports
June 2010

A broad consensus exists that the long-term impact of immigration on Americans' average income is small but positive, improving employment, productivity, and income. In the short term, however, immigration may slightly reduce native employment and average income. This report provides an analysis of short- and long-run impacts of immigration over the business cycle.

Reports
July 2011

European dominance in U.S. immigration flows has decreased significantly since World War II, a result of economic, demographic, and policy trends on both sides of the Atlantic. Today, migration from European Union Member States to the United States, while small, is characterized by a substantial numbers of European scientists, professionals, and businesspeople.

Reports
January 2013

The U.S. government has increased its attention to public security issues in Mexico and Central America since 2007. This report suggest the policy emphasis has begun to shift away from the earlier focus on combating drug trafficking and transnational crime toward addressing the citizen security crisis.

Reports
November 2013

This report profiles the population of Dual Language Learner children in the United States, who represent nearly one-third of all U.S. children under age 6, outlining school readiness and patterns of achievement. It evaluates the research on early care and education approaches that have been shown to support higher levels of language and literacy development for this population.

Reports
June 2015

Using previously non-public refugee admissions data from the State Department, this analysis finds that even as refugees come to the United States from increasingly diverse origins and linguistic backgrounds, some arriving with very low native-language literacy and education, most integrate successfully over time. The report examines refugees' employment, English proficiency, educational attainment, income and poverty status, and public benefits usage.

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.

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Fact Sheets
May 2007

While official measures of annual permanent immigration levels simply account for those who obtain lawful permanent resident status in a particular year, this report offers a more complex approximation by including estimates of certain forms of temporary immigration and unauthorized immigration in the calculus.

Fact Sheets
December 2010

In 2010, based on changes to the DREAM Act legislation pending in Congress, MPI issued revised total and state-level estimates of the unauthorized youth and young adults who might be eligible for conditional legal status, updating its DREAM vs. Reality fact sheet.

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

MPIhas 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.

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Policy Briefs
July 2006

Debates on immigration policy often discuss calibrating immigration levels to meet the labor needs of the nation’s economy. Indeed, it is clear that immigration strongly affects U.S. labor markets – over the past thirty years, foreign-born workers have grown to record numbers.

Policy Briefs
May 2013

This issue brief provides updated data, based on the Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey, on unauthorized immigrants in the United States, their demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, and their health care coverage. The analysis marks the first time that self-reported data on LPR status have been used to generate a national profile of unauthorized immigrants.

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.

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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.