E.g., 01/19/2021
E.g., 01/19/2021

Country Resource - United States

United States

US
  • Population.......................................................................332,639,102 (July 2020 est.)
  • Population growth rate ..................................................................0.72% (2020 est.)
  • Birth rate....................................................12.4 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
  • Death rate...................................................8.3 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
  • Net migration rate..................................3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
  • Ethnic groups*..........white 72.4%, black 12.6%, Asian 4.8%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.9%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.2%, other 6.2%, two or more races 2.9% (2010 estimate)

Ethnic group 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.); an estimated 16.3% of the total US population is Hispanic as of 2010

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

International students wave flags of their origin countries at a commencement address at Northeastern University

For the first time in a decade, fewer international students were studying in the United States during the 2019-20 school year than the year before. This decline, brought about in part by changing U.S. policy, has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This article profiles the international student population in the United States, including their origins and fields of study.

President Donald Trump speaks at an event in Arizona.

Despite a widespread perception that the Trump administration has drastically slashed legal immigration to the United States, a review of the data shows that temporary and permanent admissions during the period mostly followed previous trends—at least until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This article examines trends in temporary, permanent, and humanitarian admissions during the administration, and the related policies that could take a more significant bite ahead if left unchanged.

A soccer fan displays a mix of regalia from the United States and Mexico at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The nearly 11 million Mexican immigrants in the United States represent almost one-quarter of the country’s entire immigrant population, and as such are the largest foreign-born group. But their numbers have been declining, shrinking by 7 percent between 2010 and 2019. Among recently arrived immigrants, those from China and India now outpace Mexicans for the first time.

Federal immigration officers make an arrest during an operation in Virginia.

Before entering office, President Donald Trump promised to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants. Yet despite his general successes in creating a more restrictive and punitive immigration system, this goal has eluded his administration. So-called “sanctuary” policies implemented by state and local governments to limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been a key reason why arrests and removals have not reached earlier peaks.

A family in New Jersey celebrates the Hindu festival of Janmashtami.

There are 2.7 million Indian immigrants in the United States, making them the second-largest immigrant group after Mexicans. This number has increased dramatically in recent years, growing 13-fold between 1980 and 2019. This article provides an overview of this population, which is more highly educated, more likely to work in management positions, and higher-earning than the U.S. born and overall immigrant population.

A supporter holds a sign reading "Finish the Wall" during a rally for President Donald Trump in Mesa, Arizona.

In the United States, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided on immigration. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have offered sharply diverging policy positions, and the outcome of the election is sure to have profound consequences for the U.S. immigration system. Yet this partisan divide is relatively new. Just two decades ago, the parties were much more united on immigrants’ role in the U.S. economy and society.

Students at the University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu prepare to graduate during the spring commencement ceremony.

Nearly 13 million immigrants have a four-year college degree or better. But these highly educated immigrants are not spread evenly throughout the labor market. They make up disproportionate shares of certain jobs, especially in the science and technology fields, accounting for 45 percent of software developers, 42 percent of physical scientists, and 29 percent of physicians. Yet there are signs that the trends of this population might be changing, as this article explores.

Two women use their laptops

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the effects of the so-called digital divide for U.S. immigrants and other groups with reduced online connectivity. Internet access and the skills to navigate digital environments have become even more critical for work, education, and health care during the public-health crisis, yet immigrants make up a disproportionately large share of U.S. residents unable to take advantage of these tools.

Drummers at an event in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami

The United States is the top global destination for Haitian migrants, who left Haiti in the wake of political instability and a series of natural disasters, including a 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. Haitian immigrants in the United States contribute an important flow of remittances to their country of origin, which is the second largest in the world as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). Remittances to Haiti have increased nearly sixfold since 2000.

People at an annual July 4 citizenship ceremony

A looming furlough of 70 percent of staff at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services could halt processing for tens of thousands of green cards, citizenship applications, and other immigrant benefits each month it is in effect. Alongside the long list of Trump administration policies slowing immigration to the United States before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, this could contribute to a precipitous—and likely historic—decline in new arrivals to the United States.

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Construcción de un nuevo sistema migratorio regional: Redefiniendo la cooperación entre Estados Unidos con México y Centroamérica
Reports
December 2020

Un desafío y una oportunidad clave que enfrentará la administración de Joe Biden será cómo abordar la cooperación regional en relación a la migración. Este informe explora la evolución de la movilidad entre los Estados Unidos, México y Centroamérica y presenta una estrategia para ampliar las oportunidades en cuanto a la migración legal, abordar necesidades humanitarias, fortalecer la aplicación de la ley y mitigar algunas de las fuerzas que provocan la emigración.

Managing the Pandemic and Its Aftermath: Economies, Jobs, and International Migration in the Age of COVID-19
Reports
November 2020

Around the world, governments are grappling with how to combat the COVID-19 pandemic while also managing the economic fallout of policies put in place to stop the virus’ spread. Global migration has dropped sharply amid border closures and travel restrictions. This reflection takes stock of policy responses to the pandemic thus far, and of the challenges (and some opportunities) on the horizon for migration systems, labor markets, and integration of newcomers.

Building a New Regional Migration System: Redefining U.S. Cooperation with Mexico and Central America
Reports
November 2020

Addressing regional cooperation around migration will be among the immigration challenges and opportunities facing the incoming Biden administration. This report examines how movement between the United States, Mexico, and Central America has evolved in recent decades, and lays out a four-part strategy to expand opportunities for legal migration, address humanitarian protection needs, improve enforcement, and mitigate some of the forces driving people to emigrate.

Navigating the Future of Work: The Role of Immigrant-Origin Workers in the Changing U.S. Economy
Reports
October 2020

Immigrants and their U.S.-born children are key drivers of U.S. labor force growth. As some occupations grow and others decline, this report explores how these immigrant-origin workers fit within the changing world of work. It examines the degree to which workers from different racial/ethnic groups hold growing and declining jobs, and what changes in the mix of jobs mean for workforce development and immigration policy.

Immigration Enforcement and the Mental Health of Latino High School Students
Reports
September 2020

This study explores the relationship between immigration enforcement and the mental health of Latino high school students, finding that majorities surveyed in both high- and low-enforcement environments reported fear that someone close to them could be deported, with resulting symptoms of conditions such as depression and PTSD. The report provides examples of how schools are responding to support the mental health and engagement of these students.

Reports
July 2020

For the 9 million immigrants eligible to become U.S. citizens, changed naturalization adjudication practices and an agency mission shift undertaken by the Trump administration appear to be posing new hurdles. This report analyzes a survey of naturalization assistance providers from across the country, examining changes in how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services interviews applicants, conducts the English and civics tests, requests additional evidence, and more.

Dismantling and Reconstructing the U.S. Immigration System: A Catalog of Changes under the Trump Presidency
Reports
July 2020

Now into its fourth year, the Trump administration has reshaped the U.S. immigration system in ways big and small via presidential proclamations, policy guidance, and regulatory change. This report offers a catalog of the more than 400 administrative changes undertaken in areas such as immigration enforcement, humanitarian admissions, DACA, and visa processing—including a look at measures put in places since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Immigration and U.S. National Security: The State of Play Since 9/11
Reports
April 2020

The U.S. government has made important progress in shoring up weaknesses at the nexus of immigration and national security since September 11, 2001. But as new threats emerge and evolve—including public-health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic—the question is whether the post-9/11 system is up to the task of meeting these challenges, as this report explores.

The Patchy Landscape of State English Learner Policies under ESSA
Reports
February 2020

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have developed blueprints to meet their commitments under the Every Student Succeeds Act—including requirements that aim to raise the profile of English Learners (EL) in state accountability systems. This report breaks these plans down, comparing the significant diversity of approaches taken on everything from EL identification to tracking academic achievement.

Beyond Work: Reducing Social Isolation for Refugee Women and Other Marginalized Newcomers
Reports
January 2020

As migrant- and refugee-receiving countries in Europe, North America, and beyond prioritize services that are focused on employment, language instruction, and civic integration, newcomers who are not in the workplace are at high risk for social isolation. As a result, societies should reconsider what successful integration looks like for vulnerable newcomers who will never find traditional employment or who need a longer-than-average timeline to get there.

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Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States: Stable Numbers, Changing Origins
Fact Sheets
December 2020

After decades of growth, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has remained largely stable since the 2008–09 recession. The group's demographics are changing, though, with a shrinking number of Mexicans and rising Asian and Central American arrivals. This fact sheet presents a profile of these 11 million individuals, including top origin countries; U.S. destinations; and age, education, job, income, home ownership, English proficiency, and other characteristics.

Cover for COVID fact sheet on unemployment of immigrant women in U.S.
Fact Sheets
November 2020

Working-age immigrant women in the United States entered the COVID-19-induced recession with unemployment rates similar to those of other groups. Yet they have been among the most affected by pandemic-related job losses. This fact sheet seeks to explain why they have been hit so hard by the coronavirus-induced recession.

 

Immigrant-Origin Students in U.S. Higher Education: A Data Profile
Fact Sheets
October 2020

Immigrants and the children of immigrants make up a large and growing segment of students at U.S. colleges and universities—up from 20 percent in 2000 to 28 percent in 2018. This fact sheet offers a first-of-its-kind profile of this population’s size and growth, identifies the top states for these students, and explores characteristics such as race/ethnicity and immigration status.

Stethoscope sitting on a medical textbook
Fact Sheets
July 2020

Across the United States, the skills of an estimated 263,000 immigrants and refugees with health-related degrees are going underutilized during a time of pandemic, with these health professionals either in low-skilled jobs or out of work. This fact sheet offers the first-ever state profiles of this population, including the states in which they live, the languages they speak, their fields of study, and legal statuses.

COVID-19 and Unemployment: Assessing the Early Fallout for Immigrants and Other U.S. Workers
Fact Sheets
June 2020

Even as the pandemic-induced loss of tens of millions of jobs over a period of weeks dealt a devastating blow across the United States, its effects were most pronounced on certain demographic groups: Immigrant women and, regardless whether they were born in or outside the United States, Latinos and workers with less than a high school degree or under age 25.

Fact Sheets
May 2020

As millions of U.S. workers lose jobs and the health insurance associated with them, Medicaid and similar programs are increasingly important for people seeking COVID-19 testing and treatment. Yet many low-income uninsured noncitizens, including green-card holders, are excluded from such programs because of their immigration status, as this fact sheet explores.

Fact Sheets
March 2020

Six million immigrant workers are at the frontlines of keeping U.S. residents healthy and fed during the COVID-19 pandemic, representing disproportionate shares of physicians, home health aides, and retail-store pharmacists, for example. They also are over-represented in sectors most immediately devastated by mass layoffs, yet many will have limited access to safety-net systems and to federal relief, as this fact sheet details.

Fact Sheets
May 2019

U.S. debates about immigration from Mexico often center on the low skilled, but this analysis shows a population in change. Nearly one in five Mexican immigrants arriving between 2013-17 had a college degree, compared to slightly more than 1 in 20 during the 1996-2000 period. Mexicans now make up the fourth-largest group of highly skilled immigrants. This fact sheet explores their characteristics at U.S. and Texas levels.

How Many Unauthorized Immigrants Graduate from U.S. High Schools Annually?
Fact Sheets
April 2019

A high school diploma has been a core requirement of proposed DREAM Act legislation and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Yet a fresh estimate of the number of unauthorized immigrants graduating annually from U.S. high schools has long been missing from the debate. This fact sheet provides up-to-date estimates for the United States and top 15 states, estimating 98,000 such students graduate yearly.

Immigrant-Origin Adults without Postsecondary Credentials: A 50-State Profile
Fact Sheets
March 2019

With immigrants and their U.S.-born children poised to be the main source of labor-force growth, these adults are an important target for efforts to build the skills of the U.S. workforce to meet the knowledge-based economy of tomorrow. This fact sheet and state data snapshots explore the characteristics of adults without an academic degree or professional credential, by immigrant generation, race/ethnicity, and more.

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At the Starting Gate: The Incoming Biden Administration’s Immigration Plans
Policy Briefs
November 2020

Joe Biden pledged during his campaign to reverse some of the most restrictive immigration actions undertaken during Donald Trump’s four years in office. While some actions can be undone with the stroke of a pen, others will take more time. This policy brief outlines the incoming administration’s top immigration priorities, examines challenges and opportunities ahead, and previews MPI policy ideas that could improve the immigration system and advance the national interest.

Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families through Home Visiting: Innovative State and Local Approaches
Policy Briefs
October 2020

Although proven effective in supporting young children and their caretakers, home visiting programs are less likely to see the enrollment of immigrant and refugee families. This brief looks at the strategies some states and counties are using to boost the equity and quality of their home visiting services for these at-risk families, from rethinking how they assess the needs of resident families, to involving communities in program design and service provision.

Rethinking the U.S.-Mexico Border Immigration Enforcement System: A Policy Road Map
Policy Briefs
October 2020

Consistent with its world view of immigration as threat, the Trump administration has shut down meaningful access to asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, expelled more than 205,000 arrivals during the pandemic, and constructed hundreds of miles of border barriers. Yet these strategies cannot succeed over the long term, given realities. This road map sketches what an effective border management system would look like.

Educating English Learners during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Policy Ideas for States and School Districts
Policy Briefs
September 2020

The 2020–21 academic year is underway, but many U.S. schools, students, and families are still reeling from the rocky transition to remote learning that occurred months earlier, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. For English Learners and students in immigrant families, many of the challenges are magnified. This policy brief examines how schools’ pandemic response is affecting these students and offers recommendations to help schools and districts support them in this period of uncertainty.

One Year after the U.S.-Mexico Agreement: Reshaping Mexico’s Migration Policies
Policy Briefs
June 2020
The migration cooperation agreement signed by the Mexican and U.S. governments in June 2019 ushered in an intense period of policy change in Mexico, with effects at their shared border. One year on, this brief takes stock of changes in Mexico’s immigration enforcement and asylum systems. It also explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the border and highlights opportunities for future policy development.
Un año después del Acuerdo Estados Unidos-México: La transformación de las políticas migratorias mexicanas
Policy Briefs
June 2020

El acuerdo de cooperación migratoria firmado por los gobiernos de México y Estados Unidos en junio de 2019 marcó el comienzo de un intenso período de cambio en las políticas mexicanas, con efectos en su frontera compartida. Un año después, el informe examina cambios en los sistemas de control migratorio y protección humanitaria de México. También explora cómo la pandemia del COVID-19 ha afectado la frontera y destaca oportunidades para el desarrollo de políticas en el futuro.

Native Language Assessments for K-12 English Learners: Policy Considerations and State Practices
Policy Briefs
June 2020

With high stakes attached to standardized tests in U.S. education, it is critical that these assessments accurately capture what students know and can do in a subject. For English Learners, this may be a challenge if they cannot fully demonstrate in English what they have learned. Native language assessments are one promising tool for overcoming this hurdle, though questions about when and with whom they are most effective remain.

Which English Learners Count When? Understanding State EL Subgroup Definitions in ESSA Reporting
Policy Briefs
March 2020

States publish a wealth of data about their English Learner students’ academic achievement and other outcomes such as graduation rates. But the answer to the question “Who is an EL?” is not always the same. This brief explains how the EL subgroup varies across states and types of data, and why it is important to understand these differences when making decisions about how ELs and schools are faring.

Policy Briefs
November 2019

Latinos and immigrants are at least twice as likely to lack health insurance coverage as the overall population in the Kansas City metropolitan area. This gap that has significant implications for the region, as Latinos and immigrants will form an ever-growing share of the area’s labor force and tax base amid anticipated declines in the native-born, non-Latino population.

Policy Briefs
August 2019

The U.S. immigration system is in desperate need of an overhaul. What has been missing is an alternate vision for a path forward that treats immigration as a strategic resource while also accounting for heightened security and rule-of-law imperatives, which together can further U.S. interests, values, and democratic principles as a society. This concept note outlines a new MPI initiative, Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy, that seeks to fill this gap.

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Books
June 2018

Wall or no wall, deeply intertwined social, economic, business, cultural, and personal relationships mean the U.S.-Mexico border is more like a seam than a barrier, weaving together two economies and cultures, as MPI President Andrew Selee sketches in this book, which draws from his travels and discussions with people from all walks of life in Mexico and the United States.

Books
July 2013

This edited volume develops a pragmatic approach to the engagement of highly skilled members of the diaspora for the benefit of their countries of origin. The book, edited by a World Bank senior economist, is based on empirical work in middle-income and high-income economies.

Books
March 2013

This volume, which brings together research by leading economists and labor market specialists, examines the role immigrants play in the U.S. workforce, how they fare in good and bad economic times, and the effects they have on native-born workers and the labor sectors in which they are engaged. The book traces the powerful economic forces at play in today’s globalized world and includes policy prescriptions for making the American immigration system more responsive to labor market needs.

Books
December 2012

This interdisciplinary volume examines the health, well-being, school readiness, and academic achievement of children in Black immigrant families (most with parents from Africa and the Caribbean)—a population that has had little academic attention even as it represents an increasing share of the U.S. Black child population.

Books
September 2011

This edited volume rigorously assesses the 1996 U.S. welfare reform law, questions whether its immigrant provisions were ever really necessary, and examines its impact on legal immigrants’ ability to integrate into American society.

Books
June 2011

This edited volume addresses the impact of the economic crisis in seven major immigrant-receiving countries: the United States, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. 

Books
April 2010

This volume, by a former senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, argues that the U.S. approach to immigration and border security is off-kilter and not keeping pace with the scope and complexity of people’s movement around the world, nor with expectations regarding freedom of movement.

Books
January 2010

The book focuses on three case studies: the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. The volume includes chapters analyzing public opinion and media coverage of immigration issues in each country. Additional chapters propose strategies for unblocking opposition to thoughtful, effective immigration-related reforms.

Books
February 2007

Securing the Future seeks to define what policymakers and scholars mean by integration while attempting to sketch the contours of U.S. integration policy. The volume reviews evidence of immigrants’ integration by examining the progress of the second generation, as well as trends in education, health, the workforce, and citizenship.

Books
May 2005

Over the past four years, the United States has resettled far fewer refugees than it did in the 1990s. The decline has stemmed partly from post-9/11 security measures. But this book explains other, deeper reasons, deriving from changes in how and why refugees move, how asylum states receive them, and the world community's response. It also suggests steps to restore the program and better address real refugee needs.