E.g., 07/31/2015
E.g., 07/31/2015

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

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.

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.

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Reports
May 2011

Over the past half century, migration from Mexico and Central America to the United States has been driven in part by regional demographic and human-capital trends. As the U.S. labor force became better educated, fewer native workers accepted certain low-skilled jobs. This report offers a look at the economic changes that have coincided with a Mexican and Central American population boom.

Reports
September 2012

This report focuses on the development of children of Black immigrants in the United States, comparing against the outcomes for their peers in native-born and other immigrant families. It also compares these U.S. children to those in the United Kingdom, where there is a large Black immigrant population but a notably different policy context of reception.

Reports
July 2013

Este reporte analiza algunos de los factores económicos que han influido sobre los flujos migratorios de México a los Estados Unidos, con el fin de construir escenarios sobre cómo dichos flujos podrían evolucionar en el futuro cercano. El análisis examina tres diferentes periodos en la historia reciente de la migración de México a los Estados Unidos.

Reports
February 2015

Immigrant adults in the United States lag their native-born peers in literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills, with resulting effects on their income, employment, education, and health, according to MPI analysis of U.S. scores on the 2012 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). The findings, which reveal wide ethnic and racial gaps in scoring, underscore deep U.S. social inequalities.

Reports
August 2005

This report offers a comprehensive analysis of post-September 11 reforms to the United States’ visa system, examines what these policy changes in policy and procedures entail, and discusses how well they advance the stated goals of the U.S. visa program.

Reports
December 2008

Report looks at E-Verify, the internet-based program operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The program gives employers a means to electronically verify the work eligibility of newly-hired employees.

 

Reports
December 2009

An examination of illegal immigration's overall impact on the U.S. economy, which this report finds is negligible despite clear benefits for employers and unauthorized immigrants and slightly depressed wages for low-skilled native workers.

Reports
June 2011

This report explores the migration patterns and demographics of Black African immigrants in the United States, examining their admission channels, human-capital characteristics, and labor market performance. The authors also provide an analysis of these immigrants' integration prospects.

Reports
October 2012

This report draws on a six-year longitudinal study of Palm Beach County, FL, examining parenting, child care enrollment, and other factors that encourage early school success. The authors find kindergarten-age children of Black immigrants have significantly higher odds of being ready for school than children of Latina immigrant or Black U.S.-born mothers.

Reports
July 2013

This report examines three types of educational and health policy interventions that may reduce disparities between the children of U.S.-born parents and their immigrant counterparts during the crucial transition between prekindergarten and elementary school.

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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

MPIhas 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. 

This fact sheet is formatted as a chart comparing the framework of comprehensive immigration reform outlined in the 2013 Senate immigration bill against provisions included in bills considered by the Senate 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.

Fact Sheets
March 2013

A timeline of key immigration laws and policy developments between 1986 and 2013.

Fact Sheets
October 2003

This fact sheet provides an estimate and brief description of the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States in 2003.

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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.

Policy Briefs
September 2001

In the immediate aftermath of September 11, the U.S. government committed to increasing national security through every possible avenue. Although the most effective measures to combat terrorism will inevitably rely on intelligence, certain immigration programs and procedures can contribute to better intelligence and enhanced security.

Policy Briefs
August 2006

This report examines the debate over whether immigrants depress wages and displace native workers in the U.S. labor market. It provides an overview of research since the mid-1990s studying the impact of immigration on native wages and job displacement, and reviews additional factors that may affect labor markets.

Policy Briefs
March 2007

This brief investigates the relationship between immigration and the decline in both the overall number and share of native-born workers in the low-wage and lower-skilled labor force.

Policy Briefs
June 2002

For more than a century, policymakers and practitioners have debated the structure and purpose of the U.S. immigration system, but in the aftermath of recent breaches the momentum necessary for reform has arrived. A look at the challenges the INS faced and proposals and next steps.

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