E.g., 07/29/2015
E.g., 07/29/2015

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
March 2004

This report examines the transfer of immigration functions from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service to the newly established Department of Homeland Security and offers an analysis of the Department’s progress in its first year of existence toward accomplishing the two purposes for which it was created: (1) to ensure that immigration regulation and control enhances national security; and (2) to improve the performance of both the service and enforcement sides of the immigration system by allocating their respective functions to separate units within DHS. 

Reports
March 2007

This report provides a demographic profile of adolescent limited English proficient students in the United States, examines how these students are faring on standardized tests, and breaks down the assessment data further for a comparison of 6th to 8th grade LEP students California, Colorado, Illinois, and North Carolina.

Reports
July 2009

In order to rectify the shortcomings of a rigid and outdated U.S. visa system set in place by the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), this report recommends creating a new visa stream called provisional visas which would sync visa policies with the way in which labor markets work in practice, and bridge temporary and permanent employment-based admissions to the United States in a predictable and transparent way.

Reports
January 2011

This report provides an overview of several commonly used translation and interpretation technologies. It aims to assist language access practitioners in understanding and identifying which systems would best meet their agency’s language access needs.

Reports
March 2012

Texas has the second-largest number of English Language Learner (ELL) students in the nation. Using a unique longitudinal data set that tracks ELL and non-ELL students in Texas from first grade through high school, this report examines the trajectories and performance of individual groups.

Reports
April 2013

This report examines migration flows from Mexico to the U.S. since the 1990s and highlights key economic factors linked to migration trends. These findings are analyzed to forecast Mexican migration flows.

Reports
June 2014

This report examines the experiences and outcomes of immigrant youth across California’s educational institutions. Tracing the effects of education budget cuts that hit this population particularly hard, the report offers recommendations as new funding priorities and education reforms are being implemented. With one-fourth of all immigrants and one-third of English Language Learner students in the U.S., California's performance holds national implications.

Reports
April 2004

This report analyzes the housing status of immigrants in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States with respect to homeownership. In addition, it examines the factors that appear to influence homeownership among immigrants, and the programs and initiatives that can encourage homeownership among these groups.

Reports
June 2007

This report explores the role of ethnic community-based organizations as drivers of refugee integration. It highlights contributions, challenges, and best practice methodologies identified through site visits to refugee-serving ECBOs across the country, and offers recommendations for enhancing the capacity and sustainability of refugee integration services.

 

Reports
July 2009

The enactment of President Clinton’s Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Executive Order, issued in 2000, triggered a proliferation of efforts to provide services to individuals who cannot speak, understand, read, or write English fluently. With increased service provision, state and local government agencies have expressed a strong and growing interest in assuring the quality and cost-effectiveness of language access services. This paper attempts to catalog and describe some of those tools and practices.

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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.

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
January 2004

This report examines the characteristics of foreign-born workers in the United States based on the 2002 Current Population Survey. Findings relate to foreign-born workers age 16 and over participating in the civilian labor force.

Fact Sheets
August 2010

This fact sheet examines the number and growth of students in U.S. schools in need of English instruction.

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
January 2004

This report examines foreign-born participation in the United States’ labor market. It provides information and charts relating to the number and share of immigrant workers in the total civilian labor force and their employment rates.

Fact Sheets
August 2010

Over 5.3 million U.S. students during the 2007-08 academic year were enrolled in English Language Learner (ELL) programs. This fact sheet examines the states and districts with the highest number and share of ELL students and offers a detailed breakdown of 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 2004

Immigrants often work in traditionally unionized sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing and construction, or in occupations, such as services, that are becoming increasingly organized—yet little is known about their patterns of union representation. This report offers insight into the union affiliation, including membership and non-member coverage, of employed immigrant workers age 16 and over.

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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.

Policy Briefs
August 2013

This issue brief analyzes the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides a two-year reprieve from deportation for eligible unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children. The study finds that 49 percent of the eligible population had applied during the program's first year, and reveals wide variation in application rates across states and national-origin groups.

Policy Briefs
April 2005

Although federal statute affords “the privilege of being represented,” to immigrants in removal proceedings, appointed counsel must be “at no expense to the government.” This report analyzes the “no expense” restriction and its effect on case outcomes. It then outlines a number of ways in which legal representation could be increased without significant federal funding.

Policy Briefs
October 2007

This report explores the proposed implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s new guidance which mandates employers who receive “no match” letters to determine the source of the discrepancy, take steps to resolve it within 90 days, and if this isn't possible, terminate the employee.

Policy Briefs
January 2014

This policy brief traces the successes and failures of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which represented the first and most comprehensive legislation to take on the issue of illegal immigration to the United States. The brief makes the case that IRCA's major flaws were rooted in statutory design more than regulatory challenges and implementation by the administrative agencies.

Policy Briefs
June 2005

This brief outlines the framework for MPI’s Independent Task Force on Immigration and America’s Future and highlights key issues in U.S. immigration policy it seeks to inform: upholding rule of law; developing policies that meet immigration/national security needs; managing immigration to increase economic competitiveness; and promoting economic and social integration. 

Policy Briefs
July 2008

This brief takes a look at hometown associations (HTAs)—immigrant organizations based on a common hometown—and their often overlooked function as integration intermediaries in their country of destination.

Policy Briefs
September 2014

In the absence of legislative movement to reform the U.S. immigration system, the Obama administration is considering executive action to provide relief from deportation to some of the nation's estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants. This issue brief examines a number of scenarios for possible executive action, estimating how many people could benefit.

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.

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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.