E.g., 12/01/2015
E.g., 12/01/2015

Country Resource - United States

United States

  • 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

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.
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.


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.

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.

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.
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.
September 2015

How the young children of immigrants experience their early school years may in large part determine their academic future and negatively affect their emotional, social, and mental development. This report maps the types of personal and structural discrimination that young children of immigrants may experience at school, and the consequences for children, their families, and schools.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.