E.g., 07/03/2015
E.g., 07/03/2015

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

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.

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.

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Reports
February 2011

Faced with enormous political pressure to stop illegal immigration and to prevent the entry of potential terrorists, the U.S. government has devoted ever more resources to enforcing border policies. It remains unclear, the author argues, whether the efficacy of these programs warrants their costs.

Reports
April 2012

Immigration from the Caribbean to the United States is a relatively recent phenomenon, beginning largely after 1965. This report provides a demographic profile of the 1.7 million Caribbean immigrants in the United States: their geographic settlement, education and workforce characteristics, earnings, modes of entry, and more.

Reports
May 2013

Focusing on the health care and engineering sectors, this report examines the formal and informal barriers to professional practice that foreign-trained professionals encounter when they migrate to the United States.

Reports
August 2014

Immigration alone cannot save Detroit, which has become a byword for urban decline and economic decay. But if carefully managed in the context of a broader economic development strategy, immigration may be a promising tool for boosting Detroit’s economic prospects, stemming population decline, and replenishing diminished city resources.

Reports
October 2004

The 1990s marked a distinct shift in the destinations of newcomers to the United States from traditional reception cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston and increasingly towards small and medium sized-cities. In response to this shift, a unique pilot project conducted in three mid-sized metropolitan areas shows that broad-based community coalitions can proactively integrate newcomers who are increasingly transforming Main St., USA.

Reports
December 2007

This report provides a framework for assessing the legal validity of state legislative measures that address unauthorized immigration. To determine their validity, authors seek to establish whether Congress has preempted the law, and if not, whether these local laws exceed the bounds of constitutional authority by conflicting or interfering with existing federal regulatory regimes.

Reports
October 2009

This report analyzes 2008 census data, presents statistics about immigrant populations and their health coverage, and discusses these numbers in the context of health care reform proposals that directly affect immigrants and the overall U.S. population.

Reports
March 2011

In the absence of new U.S. immigration reform legislation, this report examines the opportunities that exist within the executive branch and the administration to refine and strengthen current U.S. immigration laws and policies. The administration can exercise its authority to field policies, programs, and procedures that are effective and fair in advancing the goals of the U.S. immigration system. 

Reports
April 2012

African immigrants generally fare well on integration indicators, with college completion rates that greatly exceed those for most other immigrant groups and U.S. natives, this report finds. The United States, Canada, and Australia disproportionally attract better-educated African migrants then do the United Kingdom, France, and other European countries.

Reports
January 2004

During the 1990s, NAFTA was promoted by both U.S. and Mexican officials as a means to spur economic growth and job creation in Mexico and thereby reduce the number of unauthorized migrants entering the U.S. from Mexico each year. This report takes a critical look at NAFTA’s impact on regulating migration from Mexico to the United States.

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Fact Sheets
December 2011

The number of U.S. residents deemed Limited English Proficient (LEP) has increased substantially in recent decades, consistent with the growth of the U.S. foreign-born population. This brief offers analysis on the number, share, growth, and linguistic diversity of LEP individuals in the United States from 1990 to 2010 at the national, state, and metropolitan-area levels.

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
June 2005

This report examines the scope and extent of the United States immigration system’s chronic backlog problem by offering insight into factors that contribute to protracted processing delays for naturalization and permanent residency applications before highlighting the steps the government has taken to address the issue.

Fact Sheets
August 2012

This fact sheet provides an estimate of the number of DREAMers—unauthorized immigrants potentially eligible for a two-year reprieve from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative—based on eligibility criteria outlined by the Department of Homeland Security. It also offers a detailed analysis of the demographic characteristics of prospective beneficiaries.

Fact Sheets
October 2004

This fact sheet is an overview of U.S. immigration based on Fiscal Year 2003 data from the 2003 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, which was released in mid-September 2004 by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics.

Fact Sheets
February 2007

This fact sheet briefly summarizes the background and implications of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ proposal to increase immigration fees during the summer of 2007.

Fact Sheets
October 2005

This report examines the trilateral relationship between the United States, Canada, and Mexico in the decade since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and provides facts and figures relating to trade and migration among the three countries.

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.

Fact Sheets
November 2005

This fact sheet is an overview of U.S. immigration based on Fiscal Year 2004 data released by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics in 2005.

Fact Sheets
February 2013

El sector agrícola en los EE.UU., México y Centroamérica se encuentra en medio de una transformación desde hace décadas. La demanda para cultivos intensivos en mano de obra, es decir, frutas, nueces, verduras, melones y especialidades hortícolas, como flores y setas (productos FVH, por sus siglas en inglés), está aumentando junto con la población y el crecimiento de los ingresos en la región.

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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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