E.g., 12/22/2014
E.g., 12/22/2014

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

In 2014 governments in Europe, North America, and Australia reacted to significant mixed flows of humanitarian, economic, and family-stream migrants with a range of new policies. These came as some migrants presented themselves to authorities for processing rather than trying to evade U.S. or European border controls, with the knowledge that backlogs and little political will for the removal of vulnerable populations might allow them to stay for extended periods.

After years of gridlock, increasing pressure from immigrant advocates, and several delays in 2014, President Obama announced sweeping executive actions to provide deportation relief to as many as 5.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States. The plan sparked a political firestorm among Republicans who vowed to use all tools at their disposal to block the actions, ensuring that immigration will continue to be a flashpoint for the remainder of the president's term.

New migration patterns at the U.S. Southwest border, including a shift in border crossers from primarily Mexican men to Central American families, and from the California and Arizona borders to the Rio Grande Valley, have important implications for U.S. border policy and enforcement strategies, raising questions of what consequences might deter unauthorized Central Americans while still meeting international obligations to protect vulnerable migrants.

Migration to the United States from the Korean peninsula, largely from South Korea, owes its roots to political, military, and economic factors, with an estimated 1.1 million Korean immigrants in the United States. Korean migration to the United States has stalled in recent years, and even declined, with a small but growing number of immigrants and their U.S.-born children returning to Korea, as this article explores.

While immigration and the Latino vote may not have been decisive in the 2014 midterm elections, the Republican takeover of the Senate come January 2015 and increased majority in the House have significant implications for the outcome of the immigration debate. This article examines the changing dynamics and the president's intent to proceed with executive action to shield some of the unauthorized immigrant population from deportation.

From 1980 to 2013, the sub-Saharan African immigrant population in the United States increased from 130,000 to 1.5 million, roughly doubling each decade between 1980 and 2010. This profile provides up-to-date demographic information for sub-Saharan immigrants including location, educational attainment, workforce participation, and much more.

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.

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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
September 2014

Large immigration flows challenge destination cities to find innovative ways to meet the needs of immigrant residents and promote their integration. This report examines the successful integration strategies of five U.S. cities—Cupertino and San Francisco, CA; Littleton, CO; New York City; and Seattle—and offers lessons for local governments looking to implement their own initiatives.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.