E.g., 01/21/2022
E.g., 01/21/2022

Migration Information Source

Photo of U.S. President Joe Biden delivering remarks in front of White House.
Katie Ricks/White House

While Donald Trump’s presidency is perceived as being the most active on immigration, touching nearly every aspect of the U.S. immigration system, President Joe Biden’s administration has far outpaced his predecessor in the number of executive actions taken during his first year in office—even as the pace of change has gone largely unnoticed, as this article explores.

Mother and daughter from Middle Eastern background
iStock/Phynart Studio

Migration from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to the United States doubled between 2000 and 2019, yet these immigrants represented less than 3 percent of the overall U.S. foreign-born population as of 2019. MENA immigrants are more likely than other immigrants to be English proficient, have a college degree, and work in management, business, science, and arts occupations.

A Dutch family at Ellis Island between 1915 and 1920.
Library of Congress

As host to more immigrants than any other country, the United States has been shaped and reshaped by immigration over the centuries, with the issue at times becoming a flashpoint. This article covers the history of U.S. immigration and the major laws governing immigration, and provides a comprehensive overview of the present-day immigrant population.

Articles
Family members take a selfie at an airport in Greece.
IOM/Konstantina Mintzoli

The slow and uneven recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic prompted new patterns of movement in parts of the world in 2021. New conflicts also erupted, ongoing crises smoldered, and migrants were often stuck in the middle. Our annual Migration Information Source Top 10 countdown reviews what we consider to be the year's most important migration trends and events.

Migrants enrolled in the Migrant Protection Protocols are processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.
Glenn Fawcett/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The Biden administration's court-ordered restart of the controversial Migrant Protection Protocols, known informally as the Remain in Mexico policy, puts it in the awkward position of reviving a program it is simultaneously still trying to end. The Trump-era program forced tens of thousands of migrants to wait out the duration of their U.S. immigration court hearings in Mexico and was only questionably successful at deterring unauthorized arrivals.

Two boys pose in an informal settlement east of Johannesburg largely populated by immigrants.
John Hogg/World Bank

South Africa hosts the most immigrants of any African country. Yet it faces conflicting pressures, including the legacy of apartheid, a steady outflow of well-educated South Africans, and the need to juggle bilateral labor mobility schemes at a time of economic insecurity and high unemployment. This article traces these pressures and how they have developed over time.

Recent Articles

A woman and her child in southern Ethiopia.

In 1980, more than 2.5 million Ethiopian refugees lived in other countries. Now, Ethiopians are more likely to migrate for labor reasons, particularly to the Middle East and southern Africa, and meanwhile the country has become a refuge for humanitarian migrants from its neighbors. This article traces the history of migration from, to, and through Ethiopia.

A Haitian man hugs his daughter in Peru.

The chaotic arrival of thousands of Haitians at the U.S.-Mexico border in September 2021 was the culmination of a journey through the Americas that began for many a decade ago. This article examines how Brazil became a refuge for many after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, and how Haitians then moved on to Chile and other countries as conditions changed, and then onward again further north.

A U.S. Customs agent looks at wreckage following the 9/11 terror attacks

After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 the U.S. immigration system was retooled to have a strong national security focus. This restructuring had dramatic effects on government operations and resource allocations, not to mention on the lives of immigrants and the U.S. born alike. Twenty years on from 9/11, this article examines the changes put in place or accelerated as a result of the attacks.

Two U.S. educators discuss dual-language instruction.

Immigrant integration is a complicated process that cannot fully be measured by any single metric. Understandings of immigrant integration have changed over time, and this article explores how the methods of measuring integration outcomes have evolved alongside these changing frameworks.

Niños nicaragüenses en la escuela sosteniendo la bandera de su país.

El número de inmigrantes centroamericanos en los Estados Unidos ha crecido dramáticamente. Pero las imágenes recientes de centroamericanos que llegan a la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México no cuentan toda la historia. Más de la mitad de la población llegó en 2000 o antes. Este artículo ofrece datos clave sobre los 3.8 millones de inmigrantes centroamericanos en Estados Unidos.

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Flags of the European Union fly outside of the European Parliament in Brussels.

Between Brexit and COVID-19, Europe’s 31-country zone of free movement has been profoundly tested. Still, the area has constantly evolved over the last 70 years, to include new groups of individuals who can freely move for work, study, or leisure, as well as cover larger geographic areas. This article examines the history and challenges to free movement, a crowning success of the European project.

A caravan of migrants from Central America passes by Chiapas, Mexico.

Tens of thousands of migrants have gone missing in Mexico in recent years, with the country having one of world's highest rates of disappeared persons. In 2015, the Mexican government created institutions to investigate these cases and work with the missing migrants' families, who are often their most vocal advocates. This article explores the reasons why migrants disappear, as well the institutions established to investigate cases and their impact.

Returned migrants participate in development work in Burkina Faso.

The European Union has tried to leverage development assistance to address root causes of migration from Africa, including poverty, instability, and conflict. The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, unveiled in 2015, has supported more than 250 programs totaling nearly 5 billion euros across 26 countries, but has had only partial success addressing the underlying drivers of migration, as this article explains.

Scaffolding surrounds a mosque in Iran.

Large numbers of well-educated Iranians have left their country of birth since its 1979 revolution, in a “brain drain” that has held back Iran’s economy and cultural institutions. Iran’s isolation from the world has worsened in recent years, and a stuttering economy, currency freefall, and widespread impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to the underlying factors encouraging emigration, as this article examines.

Migrants arrive in Greece on a crowded boat from Turkey.

The European Union’s landmark 2016 migration deal with Turkey offered aid and other benefits in exchange for Turkey's assistance in helping reduce arrivals of asylum seekers and other migrants. At its fifth anniversary, the EU-Turkey deal remains one criticized by human-rights advocates and has met frustration from Turkey, but in many ways created a blueprint for other externalization arrangements, as this article outlines.

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People carry the flag of the Dominican Republic at a parade in Washington, DC.

Immigrants from the Dominican Republic are the fourth-largest Hispanic immigrant group in the United States, and number nearly 1.2 million people. This population has increased almost tenfold since 1960, but remains mostly concentrated in just a few metro areas. This article provides an overview of Dominican immigrants in the United States.

iStock immigrants from asia us resize

Nearly one-third of all immigrants in the United States come from Asia, and Asian countries such as India, China, and the Philippines are the origin for a growing number of foreign-born U.S. residents. Compared to overall immigrants and the U.S. born, the foreign born from Asia tend to earn higher incomes, work in management jobs, and have higher levels of education, as this article explores.

statistics us immigration immigrants data

Have a question about U.S. immigration trends and the country's immigrant population? This article collects in one place the most sought-after information about the world's largest immigrant population and how it has changed over time. Drawing from a wide array of authoritative data sources, this article provides an up-to-date snapshot of the immigrant population, visa and enforcement statistics, and information on emerging trends, including slowing immigration and changing origins.

international students college university 2020

For the first time in a decade, fewer international students were studying in the United States during the 2019-20 school year than the year before. This decline, brought about in part by changing U.S. policy, has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This article profiles the international student population in the United States, including their origins and fields of study.

mexican american world cup

The nearly 11 million Mexican immigrants in the United States represent almost one-quarter of the country’s entire immigrant population, and as such are the largest foreign-born group. But their numbers have been declining, shrinking by 7 percent between 2010 and 2019. Among recently arrived immigrants, those from China and India now outpace Mexicans for the first time.

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us peace corps indonesia

Indonesia, which has a long history as a major origin for migrant labor in the Asia-Pacific and beyond, more recently has reluctantly found itself a transit and destination country, including for asylum seekers. Still, policymakers remain focused on protection of its nationals abroad rather than on assuring the status of Chinese and other foreigners in the country. This country profile explores Indonesia's rich migration history. 

 

SalvadoranKids FAO AMEXCID Flickr

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America yet the most densely populated. A stagnant economy, high levels of crime and violence, and natural disasters have pushed growing numbers of people to migrate without authorization or seek asylum abroad, mostly in the United States. This article explores historical and contemporary emigration from El Salvador.

Egyptians AsimBharwani Flickr

From being a source of labor emigration to the Gulf region to a destination for refugees from Syria, sub-Saharan Africa, and elsewhere, Egypt has long experienced different forms of mobility. This article, which profiles the trends and policies that have shaped Egypt's migration history, focuses on its long-standing use of migration as a soft-power tool to achieve its foreign policy aims and as a safety valve for political discontent.

RioDeJaneiro RodrigoSoldon Flickr

In Brazil, where the majority of colonial-era residents were African slaves and their children, millions of immigrants have joined a conversation about race and identity that continues today. Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, as well as significant European, Latin American, and Middle Eastern populations. This country profile explores historical and contemporary migration patterns in Brazil.

AustraliaChineseLanterns JonathanODonnell Flickr

Immigration has driven economic and social development in Australia for more than two centuries. Even as more than one-fourth of the country’s population is foreign born and Australia ranks third among top refugee resettlement countries worldwide, controversy surrounding its hardline treatment of asylum seekers arriving by boat has cast a shadow on its reputation as a welcoming country, as this article explores.

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biden first 100 days immigration

The Biden administration has set the pace for what could be the most active first 100 days on immigration policy by any White House in recent memory—even that of predecessor Donald Trump. The efforts, which represent a dramatic break from the Trump administration's view of immigration as threat, are likely to meet stiff opposition on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. This article evaluates Biden's early actions and what they suggest about the White House's ambitions on immigration.

trump effect immigration

Despite a widespread perception that the Trump administration has drastically slashed legal immigration to the United States, a review of the data shows that temporary and permanent admissions during the period mostly followed previous trends—at least until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This article examines trends in temporary, permanent, and humanitarian admissions during the administration, and the related policies that could take a more significant bite ahead if left unchanged.

Trump Deportations Record Rhetoric

Before entering office, President Donald Trump promised to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants. Yet despite his general successes in creating a more restrictive and punitive immigration system, this goal has eluded his administration. So-called “sanctuary” policies implemented by state and local governments to limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been a key reason why arrests and removals have not reached earlier peaks.

Trump_Biden_Immigration divide

In the United States, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided on immigration. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have offered sharply diverging policy positions, and the outcome of the election is sure to have profound consequences for the U.S. immigration system. Yet this partisan divide is relatively new. Just two decades ago, the parties were much more united on immigrants’ role in the U.S. economy and society.

USCIS_furloughs_immigration_reduction

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.

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