E.g., 09/26/2020
E.g., 09/26/2020

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

Students at the University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu prepare to graduate during the spring commencement ceremony.

Nearly 13 million immigrants have a four-year college degree or better. But these highly educated immigrants are not spread evenly throughout the labor market. They make up disproportionate shares of certain jobs, especially in the science and technology fields, accounting for 45 percent of software developers, 42 percent of physical scientists, and 29 percent of physicians. Yet there are signs that the trends of this population might be changing, as this article explores.

Two women use their laptops

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the effects of the so-called digital divide for U.S. immigrants and other groups with reduced online connectivity. Internet access and the skills to navigate digital environments have become even more critical for work, education, and health care during the public-health crisis, yet immigrants make up a disproportionately large share of U.S. residents unable to take advantage of these tools.

Drummers at an event in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami

The United States is the top global destination for Haitian migrants, who left Haiti in the wake of political instability and a series of natural disasters, including a 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. Haitian immigrants in the United States contribute an important flow of remittances to their country of origin, which is the second largest in the world as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). Remittances to Haiti have increased nearly sixfold since 2000.

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.

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Immigration Enforcement and the Mental Health of Latino High School Students
Reports
September 2020

This study explores the relationship between immigration enforcement and the mental health of Latino high school students, finding that majorities surveyed in both high- and low-enforcement environments reported fear that someone close to them could be deported, with resulting symptoms of conditions such as depression and PTSD. The report provides examples of how schools are responding to support the mental health and engagement of these students.

Reports
July 2020

For the 9 million immigrants eligible to become U.S. citizens, changed naturalization adjudication practices and an agency mission shift undertaken by the Trump administration appear to be posing new hurdles. This report analyzes a survey of naturalization assistance providers from across the country, examining changes in how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services interviews applicants, conducts the English and civics tests, requests additional evidence, and more.

Dismantling and Reconstructing the U.S. Immigration System: A Catalog of Changes under the Trump Presidency
Reports
July 2020

Now into its fourth year, the Trump administration has reshaped the U.S. immigration system in ways big and small via presidential proclamations, policy guidance, and regulatory change. This report offers a catalog of the more than 400 administrative changes undertaken in areas such as immigration enforcement, humanitarian admissions, DACA, and visa processing—including a look at measures put in places since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Immigration and U.S. National Security: The State of Play Since 9/11
Reports
April 2020

The U.S. government has made important progress in shoring up weaknesses at the nexus of immigration and national security since September 11, 2001. But as new threats emerge and evolve—including public-health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic—the question is whether the post-9/11 system is up to the task of meeting these challenges, as this report explores.

The Patchy Landscape of State English Learner Policies under ESSA
Reports
February 2020

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have developed blueprints to meet their commitments under the Every Student Succeeds Act—including requirements that aim to raise the profile of English Learners (EL) in state accountability systems. This report breaks these plans down, comparing the significant diversity of approaches taken on everything from EL identification to tracking academic achievement.

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.

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Stethoscope sitting on a medical textbook
Fact Sheets
July 2020

Across the United States, the skills of an estimated 263,000 immigrants and refugees with health-related degrees are going underutilized during a time of pandemic, with these health professionals either in low-skilled jobs or out of work. This fact sheet offers the first-ever state profiles of this population, including the states in which they live, the languages they speak, their fields of study, and legal statuses.

COVID-19 and Unemployment: Assessing the Early Fallout for Immigrants and Other U.S. Workers
Fact Sheets
June 2020

Even as the pandemic-induced loss of tens of millions of jobs over a period of weeks dealt a devastating blow across the United States, its effects were most pronounced on certain demographic groups: Immigrant women and, regardless whether they were born in or outside the United States, Latinos and workers with less than a high school degree or under age 25.

Fact Sheets
May 2020

As millions of U.S. workers lose jobs and the health insurance associated with them, Medicaid and similar programs are increasingly important for people seeking COVID-19 testing and treatment. Yet many low-income uninsured noncitizens, including green-card holders, are excluded from such programs because of their immigration status, as this fact sheet explores.

Fact Sheets
March 2020

Six million immigrant workers are at the frontlines of keeping U.S. residents healthy and fed during the COVID-19 pandemic, representing disproportionate shares of physicians, home health aides, and retail-store pharmacists, for example. They also are over-represented in sectors most immediately devastated by mass layoffs, yet many will have limited access to safety-net systems and to federal relief, as this fact sheet details.

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.

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Educating English Learners during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Policy Ideas for States and School Districts
Policy Briefs
September 2020

The 2020–21 academic year is underway, but many U.S. schools, students, and families are still reeling from the rocky transition to remote learning that occurred months earlier, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. For English Learners and students in immigrant families, many of the challenges are magnified. This policy brief examines how schools’ pandemic response is affecting these students and offers recommendations to help schools and districts support them in this period of uncertainty.

One Year after the U.S.-Mexico Agreement: Reshaping Mexico’s Migration Policies
Policy Briefs
June 2020
The migration cooperation agreement signed by the Mexican and U.S. governments in June 2019 ushered in an intense period of policy change in Mexico, with effects at their shared border. One year on, this brief takes stock of changes in Mexico’s immigration enforcement and asylum systems. It also explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the border and highlights opportunities for future policy development.
Un año después del Acuerdo Estados Unidos-México: La transformación de las políticas migratorias mexicanas
Policy Briefs
June 2020

El acuerdo de cooperación migratoria firmado por los gobiernos de México y Estados Unidos en junio de 2019 marcó el comienzo de un intenso período de cambio en las políticas mexicanas, con efectos en su frontera compartida. Un año después, el informe examina cambios en los sistemas de control migratorio y protección humanitaria de México. También explora cómo la pandemia del COVID-19 ha afectado la frontera y destaca oportunidades para el desarrollo de políticas en el futuro.

Native Language Assessments for K-12 English Learners: Policy Considerations and State Practices
Policy Briefs
June 2020

With high stakes attached to standardized tests in U.S. education, it is critical that these assessments accurately capture what students know and can do in a subject. For English Learners, this may be a challenge if they cannot fully demonstrate in English what they have learned. Native language assessments are one promising tool for overcoming this hurdle, though questions about when and with whom they are most effective remain.

Which English Learners Count When? Understanding State EL Subgroup Definitions in ESSA Reporting
Policy Briefs
March 2020

States publish a wealth of data about their English Learner students’ academic achievement and other outcomes such as graduation rates. But the answer to the question “Who is an EL?” is not always the same. This brief explains how the EL subgroup varies across states and types of data, and why it is important to understand these differences when making decisions about how ELs and schools are faring.

Policy Briefs
November 2019

Latinos and immigrants are at least twice as likely to lack health insurance coverage as the overall population in the Kansas City metropolitan area. This gap that has significant implications for the region, as Latinos and immigrants will form an ever-growing share of the area’s labor force and tax base amid anticipated declines in the native-born, non-Latino population.

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.

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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.