E.g., 02/27/2015
E.g., 02/27/2015

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

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.

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.

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Reports
June 2005

This report examines the characteristics and demographics of the unauthorized population in the United States. 

Reports
November 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
July 2009

This report provides an in-depth examination of the limitations of the existing E-Verify system. Alongside recommendations for strengthening E-Verify and mitigating its unintended consequences, the report offers proposals for three next-generation verification pilot concepts that would tap new technologies and practices to overcome the core weaknesses of the system.

Reports
January 2011

Notwithstanding the broad consensus on the benefits of highly skilled immigration, the economic role of less-skilled immigrants is one of the more controversial questions in the immigration debate. While less-skilled immigrants bring economic benefits for U.S. consumers, employers, and skilled workers, they impose some costs on U.S. workers competing for similar jobs.

Reports
November 2011

The story of immigrant integration in the United States has historically been one of generational progress, with the gains for second-generation Hispanic women particularly impressive, as this report reveals. It profiles first- and second-generation young adults ages 16 to 26, examining this diverse population's education and career pathways.

Reports
March 2013

This report examines how a parent’s unauthorized status affects child development. Based on a review of existing research that increasingly points to negative developmental consequences of parental unauthorized status across all stages of childhood, the authors explore possible options for policies and programs that could mitigate these risks, and propose ways to achieve this goal within the framework of proposed comprehensive immigration reform.

Reports
June 2014

This report identifies the unique needs of immigrant parents as they try to engage with early childhood education and care programs. Parent engagement is a critical component of kindergarten readiness, but many immigrant parents face formidable barriers to participation. The report explores federal and local efforts for immigrant parents of young children and offers recommendations for better meeting their needs.

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.

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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
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
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.