E.g., 12/21/2014
E.g., 12/21/2014

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
July 2006

This report provides an estimate of the taxes paid by immigrants in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, which encompasses the federal district and portions of Maryland and Virginia. It compares the tax payments of immigrant households with the contributions of native households between 1999 and 2000.

Reports
February 2009

This report assesses the performance of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over the course of the agency’s first six years, examines the effectiveness of the three core immigration agencies within DHS—U.S Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Reports
January 2010

Mexico's efforts to help its migrants succeed in the U.S. offer a new example of an immigrant-sending country looking to improve its emigrants' lives and connect with its diaspora. This report examines Mexico's approach to its migrants and details the activities of the government's attempt to map the expanding range of its educational, health care, financial, and civic programs.

Reports
June 2011

Since 1970, the immigrant populations from Mexico and Central America living in the United States have increased significantly: rising by a factor of 20 even as the total U.S. immigrant population increased four-fold over the period. This demographic report examines the age, educational, and workforce characteristics of these immigrants.

Reports
January 2013

The U.S. government spends more on federal immigration enforcement than on all other principal federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined, allocating nearly $187 billion since 1986. This report traces the evolution of the immigration enforcement system, analyzing how programs and policies resulted in a complex, interconnected, cross-agency system.

Reports
March 2004

La década de los noventa fue extraordinaria en términos de cantidad y diversidad cultural de trabajadores migratorios que vinieron a vivir a los Estados Unidos. Recién estamos comenzando a comprender las implicaciones a largo plazo de las decisiones y medidas tomadas por los trabajadores migratorios y por las instituciones americanas durante este período de fuerte crecimiento económico.

Reports
September 2006

¿Qué clase de política y sistema de inmigración podría aprovechar los beneficios de la inmigración para avanzar los intereses nacionales de EE.UU. en el siglo XXI? El Grupo de Trabajo sobre Inmigración y el Futuro de los Estados Unidos fue convocado por el Instituto de Política Migratoria (MPI) debatir este tema.

Reports
March 2009

Funding for education in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has two primary objectives: 1) to help stimulate national economic recovery by providing jobs and building infrastructure in the state and local educational systems, and 2) to improve educational outcomes for children, particularly those most in need.

Reports
March 2010

This report provides an analytical framework for determining whether the 287(g) program is worth maintaining, and offers recommendations on how federal and local officials can shape the program to promote efficiency, accountability, and basic human rights, and to assist community leaders in monitoring the program.

Reports
July 2011

This report highlights gaps and anomalies in labor protection, while recognizing that U.S. law sets significant standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, safe and healthy workplaces, antidiscrimination, labor organizing, and collective bargaining.

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Fact Sheets
October 2006

This report provides an overview of immigration to the United States based on Fiscal Year 2005 data released by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics in 2006.

Fact Sheets
February 2013

Esta ficha informativa analiza los cambios demográficos, los perfiles epidemiológicos y  los patrones de migración en El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México y los Estados Unidos.

Fact Sheets
November 2006

This fact sheet examines demographic and labor market characteristics of Mexican-born workers in the United States and compares them to those of all foreign-born as well as native-born U.S. workers. The report focuses on workers age 16 and over who participated in the U.S. civilian labor force in 2006.

Fact Sheets
April 2002

This policy paper calls for a "Grand Bargain" between the United States and Mexico to address the areas of immigration and national security. Such a bargain would address the conflicting realities of the U.S.-Mexico relationship. The bargain would be composed of three completely integrated programs and two additional areas that need to be adressed. This three-(plus two)-pronged approach would realistically address the most vexing problems in the bilateral relationship, and deliver to both sides the outcomes they most urgently desire.

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

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.

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Policy Briefs
January 2006

This report examines the connections between the United States’ temporary and permanent systems of admission to the United States. It describes the goals and structure of each system, discusses the relationship between immigrant and nonimmigrant admission flows, and describes the critical data gaps that impede understanding of the underlying realities of immigration to the United States.

Policy Briefs
March 2013

This brief demystifies the technical meaning of going to the “back of the line”—a phrase adopted by lawmakers to convey the intent to grant legal status to unauthorized immigrants only after existing backlogs have been cleared—by explaining what “the line” refers to, who is in it, and what it means to be at the back of it.

Policy Briefs
January 2006

This report explores the complex issues surrounding temporary worker programs by looking at the ways in which the United States has responded to domestic labor shortages from the 1940s through the present. It examines the intent and structure of both historical and existing temporary worker programs, and raises salient policy questions that result from the analysis.

Policy Briefs
April 2013

The current U.S. legal immigration system includes few visas for low-skilled workers, and employers have relied heavily on an unauthorized workforce in many low-skilled occupations. This issue brief explains the questions that policymakers must grapple with when designing programs for admission of low-skill workers, for temporary as well as permanent entry. The brief focuses in part on the recent agreement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO regarding admission of future low-skilled workers.

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.

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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.