E.g., 08/22/2014
E.g., 08/22/2014

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

MPI's Muzaffar Chishti and Claire Bergeron report on the new Department of Homeland Security rule on the filing of unlawful presence waivers, ICE's FY 2012 deportations and new detainer policy, and more.

Many countries, and in particular the United States, have begun granting asylum claims filed on the basis of sexual orientation in the past few decades. Despite the efforts by U.S. and other governments to reinforce protection for LGBT refugees, this community remains a marginalized group.

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.

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Reports
September 2009

This report explores whether U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is capable of fully complying with the law and managing its sprawling detention system, and provides a roadmap for meeting the data needs essential for making humane, cost-effective, and legally sound decisions related to those in custody.

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.

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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
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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