E.g., 09/25/2020
E.g., 09/25/2020

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

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.

2018 proved a banner year for far-right populist movements in Europe and the Americas. They claimed the presidency of Brazil, sparked the collapse of the Belgian government, and—whether in or out of office—put a harder-edged stamp on migration and asylum policies in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, and beyond.

U.S. Marine secures barbed-wire fencing at the California-Mexico border.

The Trump administration took sweeping action in 2018 to slow legal immigration, make life harder for some immigrants already in the United States, rebuff would-be asylum seekers, and reduce refugee resettlement. Shaping a narrative of crisis at the border, the administration significantly changed the U.S. asylum system, deployed troops and tear gas, and separated families—yet Central American migrants continued to arrive.

Hardline migration and asylum policies in the United States and Australia in 2018 hit turbulence when their effects on the most vulnerable—young children—provoked widespread public revulsion and prompted a retreat, at least temporarily. Still, public outcry over the treatment of child migrants and asylum seekers often runs up against the intractability of the problems facing governments and the lack of good solutions.

Sign left by No More Deaths activists in Arizona

As industrialized countries are adopting harder-edge immigration and asylum policies to deal with real and perceived crises, humanitarian actors have sought to blunt the effects of those policies by launching rescue missions at sea, rendering direct aid to migrants in need, and offering legal assistance. A concerted pushback to this resistance emerged in 2018, with governments using legislative, legal, and other tools to fight back.

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Advances in U.S.-Mexico Border Enforcement: A Review of the Consequence Delivery System
Reports
May 2017

In its first systematic attempt to track the effectiveness of different removal and enforcement strategies that migrants face after being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Border Patrol in fiscal 2011 launched the Consequence Delivery System (CDS). This report examines the strengths and limitations of CDS, and finds that as stricter measures have been implemented, attempted re-entries have fallen.

A Revolving Door No More? A Statistical Profile of Mexican Adults Repatriated from the United States
Reports
May 2017

The revolving door of return migration is slowing significantly for Mexican adults deported or voluntarily returned by the U.S. government, with the number intending to attempt re-entry dropping 80 percent between 2005 and 2015. Drawing from an official survey of Mexican returnees, this report explores the years of residence repatriated Mexican adults spent in the United States, time in detention, and minor children left behind.

Reports
February 2017

Nearly 2 million college-educated immigrants in the United States, more than half coming with academic and professional credentials, are unable to fully utilize their professional skills and instead are stuck in low-skilled work or are unemployed. This report explores a range of programs and policies that are providing cutting-edge career navigation, relicensing, gap filling, and job search assistance to remedy this brain waste.

Reports
December 2016

Nearly 2 million immigrants with college degrees in the United States—one out of every four—are employed in low-skilled jobs or unable to find work. This report explores this skill underutilization, often referred to as brain waste, and offers the first-ever economic costs of underemployment for immigrants in the United States: More than $39 billion in forgone wages and a resulting $10 billion in unrealized tax receipts.

Reports
November 2016

Two-generation programs that weave together early childhood learning with adult-focused programs hold great potential to break cycles of intergenerational poverty for low-income parents with young children. Little research has been done on how these programs succeed with immigrant families. This report studies select programs and offers analysis of the sociodemographic characteristics of U.S. parents with young children.

Reports
November 2016

Refugee children are vulnerable to health and nutrition risks that can have long-term consequences for their development and well-being. This report examines the prevalence of malnutrition—from stunting and wasting to overweight and obesity—among refugee children from birth to age 10, using data from an overseas medical screening exam before they were resettled in Washington State between 2012 and 2014.

Reports
November 2016

Resettled African refugee women may experience particularly acute complications during pregnancy, birth, and the child's early infancy. Yet health care-providers and policymakers may not be aware of the particular challenges that these women and their children face. This report, examining women giving birth in Utah over a seven-year period, compares perinatal complications of the African born and a segment of the U.S. born.

Reports
October 2016

Somali and Bhutanese refugees are two of the largest groups recently resettled in the United States and Canada. This report examines factors that might promote or undermine the mental health and overall well-being of children of these refugees, with regard to factors such as past exposure to trauma, parental mental health, educational attainment, social support, and discrimination.

Reports
August 2016

With English Learners (ELs) representing nearly 10 percent of U.S. elementary and secondary students, many school districts are struggling to develop the capacity to meet the needs of children from immigrant and refugee backgrounds. This study provides an overview of supplementary funding mechanisms to improve EL outcomes, examining policies at state and local levels, and making recommendations for improvement.

Reports
June 2016

This report sheds light on supplementary funding mechanisms targeted to migrant-background students in four countries—Canada, France, Germany, and the United States—and some of the key challenges and strategies decisionmakers face as they attempt to ensure that additional resources are used effectively to remedy the achievement gaps that immigrant and refugee students often confront.

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Fact Sheets
August 2010

This fact sheet examines the number and growth of students in U.S. schools in need of English instruction.

Fact Sheets
October 2008

This fact sheet provides a demographic portrait of foreign-born veterans of the U.S. armed forces. By analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 American Community Survey, this fact sheet examines foreign-born veterans' countries of origin, states of residence, and periods of service.

Fact Sheets
February 2008

This fact sheet examines the dramatic increase in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services processing times for naturalization applications resulting from an overall increase in applications during fiscal year 2007.

Fact Sheets
June 2007

This fact sheet compiles, in an easily comprehendible table, the security features of documents currently used by U.S. residents, including passports, Social Security cards, permanent residence cards, employment authorization cards, and state driver’s licenses.

Fact Sheets
June 2007

This fact sheet examines proposed changes to the United States’ family based immigration system under The Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2007.

Fact Sheets
May 2007

While official measures of annual permanent immigration levels simply account for those who obtain lawful permanent resident status in a particular year, this report offers a more complex approximation by including estimates of certain forms of temporary immigration and unauthorized immigration in the calculus.

Fact Sheets
February 2007

This fact sheet briefly summarizes the background and implications of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ proposal to increase immigration fees during the summer of 2007.

Fact Sheets
November 2006

This fact sheet examines demographic and labor market characteristics of Mexican-born workers in the United States and compares them to those of all foreign-born as well as native-born U.S. workers. The report focuses on workers age 16 and over who participated in the U.S. civilian labor force in 2006.

Fact Sheets
October 2006

This report provides an overview of immigration to the United States based on Fiscal Year 2005 data released by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics in 2006.

Fact Sheets
November 2005

This fact sheet is an overview of U.S. immigration based on Fiscal Year 2004 data released by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics in 2005.

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Policy Briefs
February 2011

An effective electronic eligibility verification system is an essential component of the U.S. immigration system, but questions as to whether the E-Verify employment verification system should be made mandatory remain. This report examines the strengths and weaknesses of E-Verify, and discusses proposals for reform.

Policy Briefs
December 2010

This policy brief shows that more unauthorized immigrants in the United States have been legalized through population-specific and registry programs than through the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act general legalization provisions.

Policy Briefs
December 2010

This policy brief examines the legalization debate on both sides of the Atlantic and discusses policy parameters that characterize legalization programs, such as qualifications, requirements, benefits, and program design and implementation.

Policy Briefs
November 2010

This brief argues that an essential first step to any type of U.S. legalization must be a registration process that rapidly identifies, screens, and processes potential applicants. The government could successfully administer a large-scale legalization only with a well-crafted bill, sufficient funding, an unprecedented mobilization of public and private stakeholders, and intensive planning. 

Policy Briefs
September 2010

Repealing birthright citizenship for U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants, a step discussed in some circles as a means to reduce illegal immigration, would significantly increase the size of the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States, from 11 million today to 16 million by 2050, this brief reveals.

Policy Briefs
July 2010

Slightly more than 2.1 million unauthorized immigrant youth and young adults could be eligible to apply for legal status under the 2010 DREAM Act, though historical trends indicate that perhaps fewer than 40 percent would obtain legal status because of a variety of limitations. This policy brief offers detailed estimates of potential DREAM Act beneficiaries.

Policy Briefs
September 2008

This report provides an overview of the citizenship test redesign process, reviews limited data on applicant test performance during pilot testing, and provides policy recommendations for moving forward.

Policy Briefs
September 2008

This report provides a global look at circular migration experiences, depicts various governments’ attempts at creating circular migration, evaluates the economic costs and benefits of circular migration for sending and receiving countries, identifies components of effective bilateral agreements, and reviews outcomes governments might realistically expect from their circular migration policies.

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.

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.

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