E.g., 06/20/2019
E.g., 06/20/2019

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

Two men in military attire stand with a veteran

Approximately 530,000 foreign-born veterans of the U.S. armed forces resided in the United States in 2018, accounting for 3 percent of the 18.6 million veterans nationwide. Immigrant veterans tend to have higher education levels and household incomes compared to native-born veterans, and the vast majority are naturalized citizens, as this data-rich article explores.

President Trump and a Customs and Border Patrol officer stand together

Though it has achieved success in some areas, the Trump administration’s many efforts to stiffen immigration enforcement in the U.S. interior and at the Southwest border are being consistently stymied by court injunctions, existing laws and settlements, state and local resistance, congressional pushback, and migration pressures that are beyond the government’s ability to swiftly address, as this article explores.

Korean band members march in a parade

Approximately 1 million Korean immigrants—the vast majority from South Korea—resided in the United States in 2017. Korean immigrants tend to be highly educated and of high socioeconomic standing. Get the latest data on this population, including flows over time, geographic distribution, employment, and more in this Spotlight.

Three men pose with guns

Even with the collapse of the Islamic State's "caliphate," thousands of Western foreign fighters are estimated to remain in the Middle East. Deciding how to handle the return of the radicalized—and their dependents—is no easy issue. Some countries seek to revoke their citizenship. Yet citizenship revocation has unclear impact and raises deep questions about the limits of a state’s responsibility to its citizens, as this article explores.

Migrants on a boat

Remain in Mexico—the Trump administration policy aimed at deterring the rising numbers of migrants from Central America by requiring them to stay in Mexico through most of their U.S. asylum adjudication process—bears striking similarities to U.S. policy in the 1980s and 1990s that sought to discourage Haitians from making the sea journey to the United States. This article explores the parallels and differences between Remain in Mexico and the earlier narrowing of asylum for Haitians.

People take photos of the Statue of Liberty.

Immigrant arrivals to the United States and the makeup of the foreign-born population have been changing in significant ways: Recent immigrants are more likely to be from Asia than from Mexico and the overall immigrant population is growing at a slower rate than before the 2008-09 recession. This useful article collects in one place some of the most sought-after statistics on immigrants in the United States.

Eloy Detention Center

Though a faceoff between the U.S. executive and legislative branches is now in the courts, with President Trump's decision to declare a national emergency so he can allocate more money for construction of a border wall, a less-noted dispute has been taking place over the Department of Homeland Security's decision to add thousands more immigration detention beds than Congress provides annually, as this article explains.

Caribbean Day dancers

Caribbean immigrants represent 10 percent of the 44.5 million immigrants in the United States, with the vast majority coming from just five countries: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago. Depending on their origin country and period of arrival, immigrants from the Caribbean have varying skill levels, racial composition, language background, and motivations for migration, as this article explores.

A man holds a sign protesting the travel ban at an airport

Two years after the Trump administration’s much-litigated travel ban was created, the policy has demonstrated a significant impact on the admission of foreigners from the banned countries, while also reshaping U.S. security vetting procedures and the refugee resettlement process in enduring ways, as this article explores on the second-year anniversary.

Chinatown, San Francisco

The national origins of new arrivals to the United States are shifting, in ways not always fully appreciated. Recent newcomers are more likely to come from Asia, Central America, and Africa, and less likely to be from Mexico. This article offers key demographic information about the 15 immigrant groups that have experienced the largest growth since 2010, including Indians, Chinese, Colombians, Nigerians, and Bangladeshis.

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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.

Reports
January 2019

Reception and reintegration programs for deported and other returning migrants represent a long-term investment for migrant-origin and destination countries, holding the potential to reduce re-migration and permit communities of origin to benefit from the skills migrants learn abroad. This report offers recommendations to make reintegration programs more effective in Mexico and Central America.

Reports
December 2018

At a time when the U.S. refugee resettlement system is facing unprecedented challenges, innovative and cost-effective tools for supporting refugee integration are in demand. This report explores how a two-generation approach to service provision could help all members of refugee families—from young children to working-age adults and the elderly—find their footing.

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.

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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

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.

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.

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
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.

Policy Briefs
May 2018

As states make more data about student outcomes and schools available online, it can be difficult to decide where to turn for information about English Learners (ELs). This guide breaks down common questions about finding and using student (and specifically EL) data. It also explores some common challenges data users may face.

Policy Briefs
April 2018

As policymakers in a number of countries, the United States among them, debate limiting family-based immigration, this issue brief explores family-migration trends and policies in the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and several other European countries. Family admissions play a key role, even in countries that prioritize economic or other immigration streams.

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
December 2017

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump made immigration the centerpiece of his campaign, offering a more detailed policy agenda than on any other issue. In the year since the election that propelled the Republican into the White House, how has the Trump administration’s record matched up with the rhetoric? This policy brief examines the executive orders and other changes to existing policy and practice made during 2017.

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
August 2017

The future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is uncertain, amid skepticism from the Trump administration about its merits and the promise of legal challenge from ten state attorneys general. This issue brief presents a profile of young adults eligible for DACA in terms of their educational attainment and labor force participation, as well as what is at stake should the program be terminated.

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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.