E.g., 02/14/2016
E.g., 02/14/2016

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 number of college-educated immigrants in the United States has more than tripled in the last two decades. Asians accounted for 46 percent of the 10.5 million college-educated immigrants, with India the top origin country. This Spotlight article examines key indicators of the college-educated population, including international students and high-skilled H-1B visa holders.

Passed with minimal controversy and public debate, the 2016 spending bill included some of the most substantial immigration policy changes enacted by Congress in the last decade. The changes touched on aspects including temporary worker visas, visa security, and the immigration courts, and could signal a new strategy for legislative change to the immigration system.

The number of Asian immigrants in the United States has increased exponentially over the last 50 years, and Asia is now the second-largest region of birth of U.S. immigrants. The growth of this population dates to the abolition in 1965 of national-origin quotas that barred immigration from Asia. This article delves into key data on Asian immigrants, from settlement and employment patterns to immigration pathways, and more.

President Obama actively utilized the powers of the executive to reshape U.S. immigration policy in 2015. From signature deportation relief programs and changes to visa waiver eligibility to new grants of Temporary Protected Status and revised enforcement priorities, the administration made sweeping changes that touch all aspects of U.S. immigration policy. The actions prompted pushback, however, with 26 states suing to halt implementation of new deferred action programs.

Citizenship came under fire in new ways around the world in 2015, with attempts to both restrict who is eligible to become a citizen and who can be deprived of citizenship. Driven by fears of international terrorism, a number of countries proposed or passed legislation making it easier to narrow citizenship and broadening the range of offenses for which individuals can be stripped of their citizenship.

As seemingly endless waves of asylum seekers and migrants arrived in Europe in 2015, politicians from across the political spectrum invoked forceful anti-immigrant rhetoric that resonated in some quarters. Mainstream politicians began co-opting the tougher, more enforcement-laden language of far-right groups as all parties sought to reassure voters in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris.

Child migrants traveling alone to Europe or the United States face similar dangers and are particularly at risk of abuse and trafficking. The arrival of tens of thousands of such children in Europe and the United States have overwhelmed accommodations as well as legal and integration processes. Furthermore, the unprecedented flows have sparked heated public debate in a number of cities.

A number of countries in 2015 redesigned their immigrant investor visa programs in response to questions about their economic benefits or allegations of fraud. The reforms have in some cases made such programs far more costly and encouraged investment in higher-risk assets. Applications for such visas have fallen signficantly in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as policymakers may have overestimated demand.

European migration, once the driving force of U.S. immigration, has steadily declined over the last 50 years. In 2014, 4.8 million European immigrants accounted for 11 percent of the total foreign-born population, down from 75 percent in 1960. Discover key statistics on this population in this Spotlight article, including countries of origin, language proficiency, employment, and more.

The digital era offers opportunities for cities to improve access and outreach to residents, including immigrants and minority groups, through online tools and apps. This feature article explores ditigal-inclusion strategies in "smart" cities New York, London, and Barcelona, as well as the creative use of new technologies in response to the European refugee crisis.

Pages

Reports
January 2016

The absence of timely, reliable indicators of immigration control represents a fundamental challenge to resolving the public and political debate over the degree of effectiveness of enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border. This report examines ways to provide a comprehensive accounting of illegal immigration, both flows and stock, and calls on the federal government to do more to measure and report on border enforcement effectiveness.

Reports
October 2015

Refugee students with interrupted or limited formal education (LFE) face particular difficulties in adjusting to U.S. schools. This study illustrates the difficulties faced by Somali Bantu refugee students who came to the United States with no schooling, and the pressures placed on teachers and other staff in a Chicago elementary school.

Reports
October 2015

The pre-resettlement experiences of refugee children can have significant ramifications on their relationships with teachers and peers and on their academic advancement once resettled. This report explores the educational histories of young refugee children in first-asylum countries and identifies elements that are relevant to postresettlement education in the United States.

Reports
September 2015

This report examines the experiences of Latino families in the United States with discrimination. The cumulative effects of hostile interactions with social institutions and community members place Latino children and families at increased risk for a range of negative outcomes, including emotional stress, limited financial opportunities, and increased social isolation.

Reports
September 2015

This Urban Institute-MPI report offers findings from fieldwork in study sites in California, Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, and Texas, examining the involvement of families with a deported parent with health and social service systems, and barriers to access. The report finds that economic hardship is highly prevalent following detention and deportation of a parent, while child welfare system involvement is rarer.

Reports
September 2015

Rising immigration enforcement in the U.S. interior over the past decade increased the chances that the estimated 5.3 million children living with unauthorized immigrant parents, the vast majority of them born in the United States, could experience the deportation of a parent. This report reviews the evidence on the impacts on children, finding significant and long-lasting harm can occur at emotional, economic, developmental, and academic levels.

Reports
September 2015

This report examines the effects of personal discrimination as experienced by the children of immigrants, particularly in school settings. Research clearly and consistently shows that the majority of of children of immigrants perceive discrimination, which can have broad psychological, physical, academic, and social consequences for immigrant children.

Reports
September 2015

This report examines the rising numbers of apprehensions and deportations of Central American children and adults by the United States and Mexico, and provides a demographic, socioeconomic, and criminal profile of deportees to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The report traces how rising Mexican enforcement is reshaping regional dynamics and perhaps ushering in changes to long-lasting trends in apprehensions.

Reports
September 2015

How the young children of immigrants experience their early school years may in large part determine their academic future and negatively affect their emotional, social, and mental development. This report maps the types of personal and structural discrimination that young children of immigrants may experience at school, and the consequences for children, their families, and schools.

Reports
August 2015

The in-country refugee processing program launched in Central America by the Obama administration in December 2014 as a response to rising unaccompanied child migration may provide a legal, safe alternative to undertaking dangerous, unauthorized journeys to the United States, albeit a limited one. This report examines the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program, as well as the history and track record of prior U.S. in-country processing programs.

Pages

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
December 2015

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 in the United States and ten states with the largest immigrant populations.

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.
Fact Sheets
May 2014
In a series of fact sheets focusing on the United States and a dozen key states, MPI assesses the extent of “brain waste”—that is, the number of college-educated immigrant and native-born adults ages 25 and older who are either unemployed or have jobs that are significantly below their education and skill levels.
Fact Sheets
August 2013

This fact sheet offers a detailed review of the comprehensive immigration reform legislation approved by the U.S. Senate in June 2013 and compares its major provisions with those of the five targeted immigration bills approved by the House Judiciary Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee.

Fact Sheets
April 2013

This fact sheet compares key components of immigration reform outlined in the 2013 Senate immigration bill against provisions included in bills considered by the Senate in 2006 and 2007: border security, detention, and enforcement; worksite enforcement; visa reforms; earned legalization of unauthorized immigrants; strengthening the U.S. economy and workforce; and integration of new Americans.

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
October 2015

More than 77,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America were released to communities throughout the United States between October 1, 2013 and August 31, 2015. This issue brief examines where these children have been placed in the United States, how they are faring in the immigration court system, and how schools are adapting to their arrival.

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.

Pages

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.