E.g., 11/19/2018
E.g., 11/19/2018

Country Resource - United States

United States

US
  • Population.....................................................................326,625,791 (July 2017 est.)
  • Population growth rate ..............................................................0.81% (2017 est.)
  • Birth rate....................................................12.5 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
  • Death rate...................................................8.2 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
  • Net migration rate................................3.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 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)
* 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

In less than two years as Attorney General, Jeff Sessions oversaw wide-reaching changes to the U.S. immigration system. Even as the zero-tolerance policy, fights with "sanctuary" cities, and DACA termination might be more visible, Sessions' enduring legacy may be his muscular use of a little-noted authority, which he wielded to significantly reshape immigration and asylum policy by referring immigration cases to himself.

South Americans represent a small, but growing share of immigrants in the United States, composing 7 percent of country’s total foreign-born population. Recent growth has been marked by an uptick in arrivals from increasingly failing Venezuela, with an increase of 61,000 Venezuelan immigrants from 2016 to 2017. This article offers an interesting data snapshot of South American immigrants in the United States.

Legal and political controversy surrounds the Trump administration's decision to include a question on citizenship status in the 2020 decennial census, the first such inclusion since the 1950 census. This article examines the administration's conflicting statements about the genesis of the plan, concerns that the decision could affect the accuracy of the census, and legal challenges pending in a number of states.

Arch to Little Village, Chicago

For decades, Mexicans have been the largest immigrant group in the United States. While this is still the case, the Mexican immigrant population is no longer growing at the rate it once was. In fact, between 2010 and 2017, the number of Mexicans in the country first leveled off and then began to decline. This article explores the latest data on Mexican immigrants in the United States.

Image of families belong together event banner in Houston

As the Trump administration moves to be able to indefinitely detain parents and children intercepted at the U.S.-Mexico border, whether illegal border crossers or asylum seekers, recent apprehension trends and history suggest hardline policies might not be a slam-dunk deterrent with a Central American population often driven by the desire to escape gang or other violence, as this Policy Beat explores.

The Vietnamese immigrant population in the United States has grown significantly since the end of the Vietnam War, making it the sixth-largest foreign-born population in the country. The main modes of arrival for the Vietnamese have shifted over the years, from refugee protection to family reunification. This article explores the characteristics of Vietnamese immigrants, including their incomes, education, English proficiency, and more.

Protest at an immigration detention facility

With the #AbolishICE movement catching fire among some on the left, critics of the Trump administration's immigration policies have seized on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as their main target—even condemning it for actions taken by other agencies. This article explores the evolution of ICE and resistance to it, as well as actions taken by the agency itself that have made its mission even more controversial.

Young Polish-American women

European immigrants in the United States have largely dwindled in number since 1960, after historically making up the bulk of immigration to the country. Today, immigrants from Eastern Europe account for the largest share of European arrivals, and Europeans overall are much older and more educated than the total foreign- and native-born populations. This article explores the data on Europeans in the United States.

Honduran boy

Since fiscal year 2010, more than 70,000 immigrant children have applied for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status, a pathway to a green card for youth who have been abused or neglected by their parents. Based on interviews with SIJ applicants, judges, and attorneys, this article provides an overview of the SIJ program and identifies limitations on access.

Hmong farmers in Minnesota

The immigrant population in the United States grew faster than the national average in a number of states—including Alaska, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, and West Virginia—from 2010 to 2016. This Spotlight offers detailed data on size, origins, and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of immigrant populations in the 15 fastest-growing destination states.

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Reports
November 2018

Emotionally charged and anecdotal narratives about immigrants often seem to drown out arguments made on the basis of robust data and evidence. Why is that? This report explores how new technologies, the human brain, and political communication are reshaping the role of facts in public debates. The report concludes with an examination of what it takes to make the “expert consensus” resonate with skeptical publics.

Reports
November 2018

Nativist populism is both symptom and driver of the challenges facing many societies in Europe and the United States. And, as this Transatlantic Council Statement explores, it is reshaping political landscapes and immigration debates. Rebuilding public trust in governments’ ability to manage migration will require that policymakers actively address social and economic divisions and provide a credible alternative to populism.

Reports
September 2018

The Houston metro area, home to 1.6 million immigrants, is diverse and rapidly growing. This report sketches the area's immigrant population, examining top origin countries, key socioeconomic measures, and more. It also explores how Hurricane Harvey affected the immigrant population, and how national policy changes under the Trump administration are being felt locally, including by DACA recipients and asylum seekers.

Reports
September 2018

The United States has a long tradition of providing asylum to those in need. But in recent years, case backlogs have grown and many asylum seekers now wait years for a decision. This report examines the factors that have brought the U.S. asylum system to this crisis point and proposes common-sense steps that can be taken to restore timeliness and fairness, while deterring abuses.

Reports
August 2018

Economists project a shortage of 5 million U.S. workers with postsecondary education and training by 2020. Yet 2 million immigrant college graduates in the United States are either unemployed or work in jobs that require no more than a high school degree. How can this skill underutilization, known as "brain waste," be remedied? MPI asked the experts, and this report summarizes their discussion and recommendations.

Reports
August 2018

Even as populist radical-right parties have experienced mixed electoral success, their ideas have gained traction in Europe and the United States. This report analyzes the economic, political, and social factors behind the rise in support for the radical-right agenda, and the impact of this trend on immigration policymaking and the broader political landscape on both sides of the Atlantic.

Reports
July 2018

President Trump has made reshaping the U.S. immigration system a top priority. Yet the fragmented nature of policy-making in the United States—with power split between branches and levels of government—has made it difficult to pursue some of his most ambitious proposals. This report explores the evolution of migration policy under Trump, and what these changes may mean in the long run.

Reports
June 2018

According to leaked drafts, the Trump administration is considering a rule that could have sweeping effects on both legal immigration to the United States and the use of public benefits by legal immigrants and their families. This report examines the potential scale of the expected rule’s impact, including at national and state levels and among children, as well as Hispanic and Asian American/Pacific Islander immigrants.

Reports
May 2018

The Trump administration has significantly cranked up the immigration enforcement machinery in the U.S. interior. Yet even as arrests and deportations are up in the early Trump months, they remain less than half their peaks. This report demonstrates how pushback from California and other "sanctuary" locations makes it quite unlikely that ICE will be able to match record enforcement levels.

Reports
April 2018

With many young children among the refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Europe and North America in recent years, policymakers and service providers are grappling with the task of designing and scaling up critical early childhood services. This report examines the approaches taken in nine key host countries, highlighting common challenges and promising practices.

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Fact Sheets
November 2018

This fact sheet and accompanying interactive data tools provide characteristics of the estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, using a unique MPI methodology that assigns legal status to U.S. Census Bureau data. The fact sheet and tools offer statistics on these immigrants’ origins, U.S. destinations, educational attainment, English proficiency, employment, income, home ownership, and more.

Fact Sheets
August 2018

States are in the midst of designing new policies to hold schools accountable for the education of English Learner (EL) students, as mandated by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This series of fact sheets sketches the characteristics of immigrant and EL students in 25 states, the gaps between their educational outcomes and those of their peers, and the accountability policies each state is developing.

Fact Sheets
November 2017

An average of 915 DACA recipients every day will lose their work authorization and protection from deportation once the phaseout of the program moves into full force in spring 2018, MPI estimates. This fact sheet also offers U.S. and state estimates of the school enrollment and educational attainment, workforce participation, and industries and occupations of employment for the nearly 690,000 current DACA holders.

Fact Sheets
October 2017

With the Trump administration having announced the end of the DACA program, Congress is facing growing calls to protect unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. This fact sheet examines DREAM Act bills introduced in Congress as of mid-2017, offering estimates of who might earn conditional legal status—and ultimately legal permanent residence—based on educational, professional, and other requirements in the legislation.

Fact Sheets
October 2017

2017 saw the introduction of several bills—two of them by Senate Republicans in the weeks following the Trump administration’s announcement that it would terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—that would provide a pathway to conditional and then legal permanent residence to unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children, if they meet a range of educational, professional, and other criteria.

Fact Sheets
October 2017

As the share of U.S. children under age 8 who are Dual Language Learners (DLLs) increases, state policies have an important role to play in ensuring all young learners are able to get their education off to a good start. These fact sheets compare key characteristics of DLLs and their peers nationwide and in 30 states, and identify state policies that support equitable access to high-quality early childhood education and care programs.

New Brain Gain: Rising Human Capital among Recent Immigrants to the United States
Fact Sheets
June 2017

Nearly half of immigrant adults arriving in the U.S. since 2011 have a college degree—a far higher share than a quarter-century ago, when just 27 percent did. This striking but little noted shift in the composition of recent immigrant flows, driven in part by rising migration from Asia, comes as some policymakers press for a "merit-based" immigration system. This fact sheet examines rising human capital at U.S. and state levels.

The First 100 Days: Summary of Major Immigration Actions  Taken by the Trump Administration
Fact Sheets
April 2017

During his first 100 days in office, President Trump has taken a sweeping set of actions on immigration, ranging from imposing a travel ban to cutting refugee admissions, "extreme" vetting, and fortifying immigration enforcement at the border and in the U.S. interior. This fact sheet examines the major immigration actions taken to date, legal challenges, and related policy and personnel developments.

Fact Sheets
March 2017

These fact sheets provide a sketch of key characteristics of the foreign-born and English Learner (EL) populations in select states. The fact sheets look at the demographics of these states, discuss EL student outcomes as measured by standardized tests, and conclude with an overview of state accountability mechanisms that affect ELs under relevant provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act and predecessor No Child Left Behind Act.

Fact Sheets
December 2016

Across the United States, nearly 2 million immigrants with college degrees are unemployed or stuck in low-skilled jobs. This skill underutilization, known as “brain waste,” varies significantly by state. These fact sheets offer a profile of these highly skilled immigrants and estimate their forgone earnings and resulting unrealized tax receipts in eight states: California, Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

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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.

Policy Briefs
December 2017

Enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 introduced opportunities to use federal funds to strengthen the early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce as a means of better meeting the needs of the growing and increasingly diverse young child population.

Policy Briefs
April 2005

Although federal statute affords “the privilege of being represented,” to immigrants in removal proceedings, appointed counsel must be “at no expense to the government.” This report analyzes the “no expense” restriction and its effect on case outcomes. It then outlines a number of ways in which legal representation could be increased without significant federal funding.

Policy Briefs
October 2007

This report explores the proposed implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s new guidance which mandates employers who receive “no match” letters to determine the source of the discrepancy, take steps to resolve it within 90 days, and if this isn't possible, terminate the employee.

Policy Briefs
January 2014
This policy brief traces the successes and failures of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which represented the first and most comprehensive legislation to take on the issue of illegal immigration to the United States. The brief makes the case that IRCA's major flaws were rooted in statutory design more than regulatory challenges and implementation by the administrative agencies.
Policy Briefs
March 2018

Though much attention focuses on the 85,000 temporary high-skilled visas issued each April through a computer-generated lottery, in reality far more H-1B visas are awarded outside the cap. This brief takes stock of changing trends in the program, finding that the largest H-1B dependent employers pay less and hire fewer foreign workers with advanced degrees than other top users that rely less on the temporary visa.

Policy Briefs
June 2005

This brief outlines the framework for MPI’s Independent Task Force on Immigration and America’s Future and highlights key issues in U.S. immigration policy it seeks to inform: upholding rule of law; developing policies that meet immigration/national security needs; managing immigration to increase economic competitiveness; and promoting economic and social integration. 

Policy Briefs
July 2008

This brief takes a look at hometown associations (HTAs)—immigrant organizations based on a common hometown—and their often overlooked function as integration intermediaries in their country of destination.

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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.