E.g., 10/16/2019
E.g., 10/16/2019

Country Resource - United States

United States

US
  • Population.....................................................................329,256,465 (July 2018 est.)
  • Population growth rate ..............................................................0.8% (2018 est.)
  • Birth rate....................................................12.4 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
  • Death rate...................................................8.2 deaths/1,000 population (2018 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 U.S. 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 United States who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.); an estimated 16.3% of the total U.S. 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

Asylum seekers cross into Canada

Nearly 50,000 asylum seekers have entered Canada irregularly via land crossing from the United States since spring 2017—contributing to a doubling in the overall number of asylum requests seen in 2016. Based on interviews with asylum claimants, this article analyzes their motivations for making the journey and the political implications of rising irregular migration to Canada.

Outside of the Justice Department building

With a backlog of more than 1 million removal cases, the U.S. immigration court system is in crisis. Pressure from external forces, internal challenges, and lagging resources for the courts at a time of massive increases in spending on immigration enforcement have contributed to the backlog. This article explores how the system got to the breaking point, and what opportunities for reform exist.

An apprehended migrant sits in a truck with his hands in his face

Buoyed by initial successes challenging Trump administration immigration actions such as the travel ban in federal court, many critics expected the judiciary to act as a brake on major changes to the immigration system. Yet the Supreme Court has repeatedly shown a willingness to affirm the executive branch's immigration policies, most recently permitting what is arguably the most significant asylum policy change in four decades to proceed.

Two Brazilian men standing on a street

Approximately 450,000 Brazilian immigrants resided in the United States in 2017, an increase of nearly one-third since 2010. Representing 1 percent of the nation's 44.5 million immigrants, Brazilians tend to have higher educational attainment and household incomes compared to the overall foreign-born population. Get the latest data on Brazilians immigrants, including flows over time, geographic distribution, and more in this Spotlight.

Group of women and girls pose with Honduran flag

While much attention has been paid to recent Central American arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border, nearly half of the approximately 3.5 million Central Americans resident in the United States in 2017 arrived before 2000. About one-third are naturalized U.S. citizens, and they tend to participate in the labor force at a higher rate than foreign- and U.S.-born adults. Discover more about this population in this data-rich article.

Mujeres y la bandera de Honduras

Si bien se ha prestado mucha atención a los centroamericanos recién llegados a la frontera entre los Estados Unidos y México, casi la mitad de los aproximadamente 3.5 millones que vivían en los Estados Unidos en 2017 llegaron antes de 2000. Aproximadamente un tercio son ciudadanos estadounidenses y tienden a participar en la fuerza laboral con más frecuencia que otros extranjeros y estadounidenses. Descubra más en este artículo lleno de datos.

Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Ideological differences in the Democratic Party over immigration that were once masked by unity against President Trump’s border wall and immigration agenda are now being exposed as Democratic presidential candidates seek to stand out in a crowded field and amid controversy over an emergency border spending bill. As the 2020 electoral calendar accelerates, how the party navigates the gulf between its most liberal and conservative wings will become a greater challenge for its leaders.

Group of men and women seated at a naturalization ceremony

Nearly 22 million immigrants—about half of the overall immigrant population—were naturalized U.S. citizens in fiscal year 2017. In the same year, more than 707,000 immigrants became U.S. citizens. Naturalized citizens tend to have higher incomes and educational attainment compared to other immigrants, as this data-rich article explores.

Border Patrol agents and child migrants

Approximately 11,500 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in May, putting this year on track to exceed 2014's surge. As the U.S. government struggles to care for these child migrants, with public outrage mounting over reports of unsafe, filthy conditions in initial Border Patrol custody, the failure of the executive branch and Congress to plan for increased shelter and care demands are increasingly apparent, as this article explores.

The United States has historically been the top country for refugee resettlement, but was surpassed in 2018 by Canada amid record cuts to admissions by the Trump administration. Approximately 22,500 refugees were resettled in the United States during fiscal year 2018, as well as 26,500 asylees. This article examines where these newcomers came from and many other characteristics, including religious affiliation, age, and gender.

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Reports
September 2019

Migration between Mexico and the United States has changed dramatically in recent years, but policies and political rhetoric in both countries have not always kept up. This report, which draws from discussions of a high-level Mexico-U.S. study group convened by MPI and El Colegio de México, explores this new migration reality and how the two governments could work more closely together to address shared policy challenges.

Reports
September 2019

La migración entre México y Estados Unidos ha cambiado dramáticamente en los últimos años, pero las políticas y la retórica política en ambos países no se han actualizado a este contexto a la misma velocidad. Este reporte explora esta nueva realidad migratoria y cómo los dos gobiernos podrían trabajar juntos para abordar los desafíos de políticas públicas que tienen en común.

Reports
August 2019

How did the U.S. border enforcement picture go in the span of two years from the lowest levels of illegal immigration since 1971 to a spiraling border security and humanitarian crisis? This report draws on enforcement and other data as well as analysis of changing migration trends and policies to tell this story. The authors outline key elements for a new strategy that can succeed over the long term.

Reports
July 2019

As technological developments—from automation to artificial intelligence and machine learning—reshape the world of work, governments face the challenge of updating how they attract, select, and retain economic-stream immigrants. This report, concluding a series on building migration systems for a new age of economic competitiveness, lays out the key considerations for "future-proofing" immigrant selection systems.

Reports
May 2019

Amid a significant reshaping of immigration policy by the Trump administration, a range of immigration topics that have not been at the forefront of debate merit further information sharing with the public and policymakers. This report examines eight issues areas that are deserving of additional review and could form the basis for future action by Congress, including H-1B reform and treatment of unaccompanied minors.

Reports
May 2019

In the two years since President Trump entered office, U.S. immigration policy has changed in many ways. Some actions have received significant media attention and public scrutiny, and others have been implemented with little fanfare. This document chronicles these wide-reaching policy changes, covering immigration enforcement, the immigration courts, humanitarian admissions, visa processing, and more.

Competing Approaches to Selecting Economic Immigrants: Points-Based vs. Demand-Driven Systems
Reports
April 2019

National systems for selecting skilled foreign workers have evolved in two directions: Points-based systems in which governments select economic immigrants based on labor and human-capital considerations and demand-driven ones that rely heavily on employer involvement. This report explores these two models—and their convergence—and offers tips for designing selection systems that are flexible, transparent, and effective.

Reports
April 2019

With the children of immigrants a growing share of all U.S. children, and federal immigration enforcement and other policies undergoing significant change, some state and local child welfare agencies are developing new ways to improve how they work with immigrant families. This report examines key cultural, linguistic, and legal challenges, and how agencies are adjusting staffing, training, placement, and other policies to tackle them.

The Unintended Consequences for English Learners of Using the Four-Year Graduation Rate for School Accountability
Reports
April 2019

High school graduation is a landmark event for students. It also plays an important role in the state accountability systems designed to ensure that schools provide all students a high-quality education. Yet relying on a school's four-year graduation rate for federal accountability purposes can have unintended consequences for English Learners, who may need extra time to graduate.

Credentials for the Future: Mapping the Potential for Immigrant-Origin Adults in the United States
Reports
March 2019

As the U.S. workforce ages and the economy becomes ever more knowledge-based, policymakers face a key question: Do workers have the skills to meet tomorrow's demands? This report examines how immigrants and their children—the primary source of future labor-market growth—fit into the discussion. The report offers a first-ever profile of the 30 million immigrant-origin adults without a postsecondary credential.

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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.

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.

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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.

Policy Briefs
August 2019

In the coming decades, the U.S. labor market will undergo major transformation. Automation, an aging workforce, and alternative staffing practices will change how, where, and by whom work is done. This think piece, by a former chief economist for the U.S. Labor Department, explores how immigrant workers fit into this changing landscape, and what immigration and workforce policy changes could help maximize their contributions to the U.S. economy.

Policy Briefs
August 2019

The U.S. economy is facing an uncertain future as an aging workforce, stagnating labor force participation, skill mismatches, and automation reshape the labor market. This issue brief explores these forces and the role that immigration could play in supporting future U.S. economic growth. It also examines how immigration affects workers already in the country, both native born and immigrant.

Policy Briefs
August 2019

Home visiting programs for young families are growing in popularity across the United States, and have demonstrated their effectiveness in supporting maternal health and child well-being. At the same time, more infants and toddlers are growing up in immigrant families and households where a language other than English is spoken. Why then are these children under-represented in these programs? This brief explores common barriers, ways to address them, and why it is important to do so.

Policy Briefs
June 2019

A complicated web of laws, policy guidance, and court rulings affect how English Learner (EL) and immigrant-background students are educated across the United States. This EL Insight sorts through them to highlight seven key ways the U.S. government protects the rights of these students to a K-12 education. It also highlights who can enforce these rules and how they can be seen in action.

Policy Briefs
May 2019

Noncitizens have long served in the U.S. military, often encouraged by the promise of a fast track to U.S. citizenship. In recent years, however, Congress and the Defense Department have made it more difficult for noncitizens to enlist. This brief give context to these policy changes and explores ways the military could better balance concerns about national security and the need for recruits with key cultural and professional skills.

Policy Briefs
April 2019

The first years of a child’s life are a time of immense growth, and exposure to trauma—if left unaddressed—can have significant, lifelong effects. This issue brief examines how young children of refugees and other immigrants may be affected by trauma, and what early childhood education and care programs, health-care providers, and others can do to mitigate its adverse effects.

Policy Briefs
November 2018

Most recent U.S. legal permanent residents could have found themselves at risk of green-card denial had they been assessed under a proposed Trump administration public-charge rule that would apply a significantly expanded test to determine likelihood of future public-benefits use. This analysis finds the effects would fall most heavily on women, children, and the elderly, while potentially shifting legal immigration away from Latin America.

Policy Briefs
October 2018

To successfully integrate, immigrants and refugees need a variety of skills and knowledge—from English proficiency to understanding how school systems and local services work. Yet the adult education programs in place to support them have narrowed in scope. This policy brief proposes a new instructional model, English Plus Integration, to help states more comprehensively meet the diverse needs of their adult immigrant learners.

Policy Briefs
June 2018

The programs U.S. schools use to support English Learners (EL) take many shapes and forms. At a time when parents and community members are encouraged to work with educators to close achievement gaps, this guide aims to help them understand the differences between EL program models, as well as why schools make different choices about which to use.

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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.