E.g., 07/06/2015
E.g., 07/06/2015

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
April 2011

Migrant-sending and migrant-receiving countries rarely collaborate on migration issues because the structure of global migration systems ensures they often disagree about core policy issues. This report shows that migration collaboration makes sense when states share common goals they cannot achieve on their own.

Reports
July 2012

This report traces how the American public and the U.S. government have responded to the diversification of migrant streams and the increasing proportion of illegal immigration in recent decades. It outlines the anxieties triggered by this immigration, the policy response at the national and state levels, and the implications of the second generation over the long run.

Reports
June 2013

This report examines the high school completion, college access, and postsecondary success of immigrant youth (ages 16 to 26) in Washington State, where one in four young adults is an immigrant or child of an immigrant. The report provides one of the first cross-system analyses of the educational experiences of first-generation (foreign-born) and second-generation (U.S.-born with immigrant parents) youth in the state.

Reports
October 2014

Even as deportation of criminals has risen steadily, immigration crimes are the largest category of criminal removals, representing 18 percent of the 1.5 million criminal removals that occurred between fiscal 2003-13. This report analyzes the 3.7 million formal removals that occurred during the period, offering a profile of deportees and changing trends. It also outlines how possible scenarios for executive action could affect the number of deportations.

Reports
June 2005

This report provides the first analysis of the Department of Homeland Security’s “One Face at the Border” initiative designed to integrate the immigration, customs, and agriculture functions of United States border management under the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.

Reports
October 2008

This pocket guide compiles some of the most credible, accessible, and user-friendly government and non-governmental data sources pertaining to U.S. and international migration. The guide also includes additional links to relevant organizations, programs, research, and deliverables, along with a glossary of frequently used immigration terms.

Reports
October 2009

Voters’ brains connect words, phrases, images, values, and emotions, and these connections — known as networks of association — influence their receptiveness to political messages, often far more strongly than facts and rational arguments. This report shows that to reach those who have not yet made up their mind on a particular issue, advocates and leaders need to understand the associations a term such as “immigrant” spark in the mind of the electorate and strengthen positive associations while weakening negative ones.

Reports
May 2011

Immigration is a prominent part of the United States’ DNA, despite concerns about immigrants’ ability to integrate. An examination of recent immigrant inflows shows newcomers to the United States are integrating well, based on language proficiency, socioeconomic attainment, political participation, residential locale, and social interaction indicators.

Reports
September 2012

This report examines the role of naturalization as indicator and facilitator of successful integration in the United States. It examines why immigrants decide to naturalize and why many of those eligible to naturalize are unable or choose not to do so.

Reports
June 2013

Low-income immigrant children are less likely than their U.S.-born citizen counterparts to see a doctor even when they are insured. Similarly, immigrant adults are less likely to use emergency rooms than low-income natives. This report examines health care coverage and usage among immigrants and the U.S. born.

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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.

Fact Sheets
November 2005

This report closely examines the rapid growth of government appropriations directly targeted to immigration enforcement activities since the passage of the Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986 (IRCA). Focusing primarily on data between 1985 and 2002, authors highlight trends in the overall immigration enforcement spending as well as in specific activities.

Fact Sheets
February 2013

El imperativo de mantener la competitividad de la industria manufacturera — un sector que se encuentra en rápida transformación y globalización — está impulsando a las empresas y diseñadores de políticas de la región de studio (es decir, en los Estados Unidos, México, El Salvador, Guatemala, y Honduras) a buscar nuevas estrategias para atraer la inversión y desarrollar el capital humano en el sector. Los EE.UU.

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.

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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.

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.

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