E.g., 03/27/2015
E.g., 03/27/2015

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

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.

An estimated 41.3 million immigrants lived in the United States in 2013, about 13 percent of the total U.S. population, constituting the world's largest foreign-born population. This Spotlight from MPI's Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova offers the most current and sought-after data on immigrants in the United States—including origin, educational attainment, the unauthorized, deportations, and more—in one easy-to-use resource.

President Obama's sweeping executive action to shield as many as 3.7 million unauthorized immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents from deportation is facing tough legal and political challenges. This month's Policy Beat examines the efforts to proceed with implementation of DAPA and the expansion of DACA despite a lawsuit brought by a coalition of 26 states and staunch opposition in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, radically altering U.S. policy and reshaping the demographic profile of the United States. Examining the foreign policy and domestic concerns leading to the law's enactment, David S. FitzGerald and David Cook-Martín argue that the demise of the national-origins quota system was driven by geopolitical factors.

With the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943 and normalization of U.S.-China relations in the late 1970s, Chinese immigration to the United States has steadily increased, to a population of more than 2 million. Using the latest data, this Spotlight highlights characteristics of Chinese immigrants from mainland China and Hong Kong, including their top state and metro areas of residence, immigration pathways, educational attainment, and more.

Normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States will have a significant impact on U.S. immigration policy and future Cuban migration to the United States. This Policy Beat explores the U.S.-Cuba migration relationship, as fear of changes to the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy has spurred hundreds of new boat arrivals in recent months.

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.

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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
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.

Policy Briefs
November 2005

This brief provides a historical overview of various attempts at implementing workplace enforcement in the United States before arguing in favor of a process not unlike credit-card verification that allows employers to swipe a card at the point of hire and receive a response in real time from the Social Security Administration informing them whether an employee is authorized to work in the United States.

Policy Briefs
November 2010

This brief argues that an essential first step to any type of U.S. legalization must be a registration process that rapidly identifies, screens, and processes potential applicants. The government could successfully administer a large-scale legalization only with a well-crafted bill, sufficient funding, an unprecedented mobilization of public and private stakeholders, and intensive planning. 

Policy Briefs
November 2005

This report provides an overview of United States border enforcement throughout the 20th century, highlights how it has changed since the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act nearly two decades ago, and further examines its unprecedented expansion in the aftermath of 9/11. The author concludes with a set of policy questions.

 

Policy Briefs
December 2010

This policy brief shows that more unauthorized immigrants in the United States have been legalized through population-specific and registry programs than through the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act general legalization provisions.

Policy Briefs
November 2005

This policy brief examines the flaws in the United States’ existing employer sanctions regime and proposes six types of reform that could strengthen the system: improvements to document security, document consolidation, mandatory use of employment databases, increased enforcement staffing, a revised penalty structure, and better worksite access for investigators.

Policy Briefs
December 2010

This policy brief examines the legalization debate on both sides of the Atlantic and discusses policy parameters that characterize legalization programs, such as qualifications, requirements, benefits, and program design and implementation.

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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.

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.