E.g., 07/28/2014
E.g., 07/28/2014

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

Immigrants accounted for 16 percent of the 58.8 million college-educated persons in the United States in 2011, with one in three immigrants holding a college degree. In this spotlight, MPI's Qingqing Ji and Jeanne Batalova provide a demographic and socioeconomic profile of college-educated natives and immigrants in the country.

MPI’s Muzaffar Chishti and Claire Bergeron report on the ongoing debate surrounding driver’s licenses for unauthorized immigrants, new immigration bills in Congress, proposed rules governing ICE detention, and more.

The U.S. and Australian governments have long grappled with unwanted entries by unauthorized migrants and would-be asylum seekers. Both nations undertook efforts in 2012 to reform immigration detention policies and procedures that have generated significant scrutiny and criticism.

The United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada remain top destinations for international students seeking a world-class education. Yet even as these countries and their universities recruit international students—both for their tuition fees and their brain power—they undertook efforts in 2012 to crack down on student visa fraud and some also sought to tighten entry requirements. Other top student destinations, however, are focused on using their visa policy to actively encourage student retention.

Reform of the U.S. immigration system has been an elusive goal for more than a decade. But as 2012 draws to a close, it appears that substantive reform could be back on the agenda in 2013 for the Obama administration and Congress, powered there in significant measure by election results that held a message for both political parties. Even before the election, however, there were some signs of an emerging thaw.

The Obama administration in 2012 sidestepped the legislative gridlock that has existed in Washington for more than a decade over immigration policymaking and reframed the debate in a significant way with the launch of a program that provides a two-year reprieve from deportation for eligible unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

There were more than 53 million nonimmigrant (temporary) admissions to the United States in 2011. MPI's Qingqing Ji and Jeanne Batalova outline the definition of nonimmigrants and take a detailed look at admissions data and data limitations in this spotlight.

MPI's Muzaffar Chishti and Claire Bergeron report on the prospects for immigration reform in the 113th Congress, delays in the creation of a racial profiling statistical monitoring tool for Secure Communities, an increase in Mexican asylum seekers, and more.

In 2011, more than 1 million people were granted lawful permanent resident status in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of new LPRs were immigrants with family ties in the United States, report MPI's Joseph Russell and Jeanne Batalova in this updated look at the latest statistics on legal immigration.

The Obama administration has announced a new policy recognizing same-sex relationships in immigration matters – the latest of several such developments since 2011. This article explores the expansion in same-sex couple recognition; it also reports on the STEM visa bill's fate, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's position on deferred action, Taiwan's inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program, and more.

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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
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.

Reports
November 2004

This report investigates and addresses gaps in the data needs of immigrant service and advocacy organizations by surveying the most commonly used migration data sources in the field, discussing budget-conscious ways to commission customized analysis through government and private sources, and identifying good providers of training for staff. 

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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. 

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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.

Policy Briefs
October 2006

This report discusses the major features of the proposed 2006 DREAM Act and provides MPI’s estimates of the number of young persons likely to be eligible for immigration relief if the DREAM Act is signed into law.

Policy Briefs
June 2013

This brief examines how the Senate's 2013 comprehensive immigration reform legislation would reshape the legal immigration system through its admission policies and creation of a new merit-based visa stream and points-based system. It also offers estimates of future migration flows, where they can be determined.

Policy Briefs
April 2003

On November 25, 2002, Congress passed the Homeland Security Act, which effectively overhauled the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and called for a massive reorganization of immigration functions under the newly formed Department of Homeland Security (DHS).This report outlines key changes incurred, highlights points of concern and offers policy recommendations aimed at remedying some of these concerns.

Policy Briefs
May 2007

This report offers a series of original charts that depict the characteristics of recent immigrants who are representative of those likely to be affected by the proposed merit-based points system for selecting permanent immigrants to the United States.

Policy Briefs
August 2013

This issue brief analyzes the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides a two-year reprieve from deportation for eligible unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children. The study finds that 49 percent of the eligible population had applied during the program's first year, and reveals wide variation in application rates across states and national-origin groups.

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