E.g., 01/27/2021
E.g., 01/27/2021

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

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.

Photo of a Jeepney in LA's Historic Filipinotown neighborhood

Immigration from the Philippines to the United States has been taking place for more than a century, escalating towards the end of the 20th century. Filipinos now represent the fourth-largest U.S. immigrant group. Compared to all immigrants, Filipinos are more highly educated, are more likely to be naturalized U.S. citizens, have higher incomes and lower poverty rates, are less likely to be uninsured, and have greater English proficiency.

Protesters at a rally in Minneapolis call for abolishing ICE

Calls by activists to "defund the police," in the wake of a string of deadly encounters for Black community members, echo earlier demands to "abolish ICE" and reflect broader criticism of enforcement systems perceived as overly aggressive. Budgets have ballooned at federal immigration agencies and within the immigrant detention system as enforcement has become increasingly muscular in the post-9/11 period.

Los manifestantes marchan en un mitin en Minneapolis pidiendo el fin de ICE

Los llamados de los activistas a "desbancar a la policía", a raíz de una serie de encuentros mortales para los miembros de la comunidad negra, hacen eco de las demandas anteriores de "abolir el ICE" y reflejar una crítica más amplia de los sistemas de aplicación percibidos como demasiado agresivo.

People celebrating a Cuban Day Parade

Cuban immigration to the United States has slowed in recent years, rising by 2 percent from 2017 to 2018. Overall, Cubans represent 3 percent of all immigrants in the United States. Compared to the overall foreign- and U.S.-born populations, Cuban immigrants are less likely to be proficient in English, have lower educational attainment, and earn lower household incomes. Learn more about the 1.3 million Cuban immigrants in the United States with this data-rich article.

President Trump signs an immigration proclamation at the White House

The U.S. in April became the first country to explicitly justify immigration curbs not on grounds of COVID-19, but to protect the jobs of U.S. workers at a time of skyrocketing unemployment. A Trump administration proclamation limiting green cards for new arrivals was greeted coolly by the president's base, with many expecting the White House would issue new limits for nonimmigrant workers—which could have a more significant impact.

Health-care workers

Immigrants make up a disproportionately high number of U.S. health-care workers, from doctors and nurses to home health aides. In 2018, more than 2.6 million immigrants worked in the U.S. health-care field. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, immigrants have played a key role in the frontline response. This article explores the demographics of this group of essential workers by occupation, origin, language, education, and more.

On the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic yet also more disproportionately affected by the virus and with reduced health-care access, immigrants in the United States have largely found themselves blocked from federal economic relief. As states and philanthropic groups seek to plug the gap, this article examines conditions and changing policies around immigration and the coronavirus response.

A young Venezuelan girl

Until recently, the Venezuelan immigrant population in the United States was relatively small compared others from South America. But it has grown significantly, reaching 394,000 in 2018, as Venezuela's destabilization has driven large-scale emigration. Compared to other immigrants in the United States, Venezuelans have higher levels of education but are also more likely to live in poverty, as this Spotlight explores.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the intersection of U.S. immigration and public health policy, and the unique challenges that immigrants face. This article analyzes the Trump administration’s introduction of some of the most stringent immigration restrictions in modern times, the often disparate fallout of the outbreak on immigrant communities, the status of federal immigration agency operations, and more.

Pages

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.

Transatlantic Council Statement report, January 2020
Reports
January 2020

Addressing the deep-rooted integration challenges unearthed by large-scale migration and rapid social change will require a combination of strategies. Governments in Europe and North America must create a new social contract for increasingly diverse societies that are confronting cycles of disruption. This report sketches a blueprint for an adaptive process oriented by skill needs rather than national origins.

Cover of the report Volunteers and Sponsors: A Catalyst for Refugee Integration?
Reports
November 2019

Rising numbers of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe and North America have been matched by an equally unprecedented outpouring of public support. How can service providers most effectively harness this volunteering? This report considers where community members can add the most value to integration efforts and offers recommendations for how policymakers can facilitate the effective engagement of communities in integration initiatives.

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.

Pages

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.

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.

Pages

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
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.

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.

Pages