E.g., 04/20/2015
E.g., 04/20/2015

Country Resource - United States

United States

US
  • Population.....................................................................318,892,103 (July 2014 est.)
  • Population growth rate ..............................................................0.77% (2014 est.)
  • Birth rate....................................................13.42 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
  • Death rate...................................................8.15 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
  • Net migration rate................................2.45 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
  • Ethnic groups*..........white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate)

* 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.); about 15.1% of the total US population is Hispanic.

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

Cuban immigrants are afforded a special place in U.S. immigration law, with most able to gain permanent residency after one year in the country. Following a history of surges in maritime migration, more than 1.1 million Cuban immigrants resided in the United States in 2013, accounting for about 3 percent of the total foreign-born population. This article explores key characteristics of Cubans in the United States, including educational attainment, income, and more.

Immigrant women constitute a varied and dynamic population in the United States with 51 percent or 21.2 million of the country's total foreign-born population. Examining key gender-based socioeconomic indicators from origin and fertility to educational attainment and immigration status, this Spotlight raises implications for sending and receiving countries, with respect to labor opportunities, family structure, gender roles, and more.

Attention is now squarely focused on the U.S. federal courts where the legal battle over President Obama's executive actions on immigration continues. While congressional efforts to roll back the directives appear to have been put aside, at least temporarily, implementation of the signature deferred action programs announced in November 2014 remains blocked. The administration, however, is moving forward with other aspects of the executive order, as this article explores.

An estimated 41.3 million immigrants lived in the United States in 2013, about 13 percent of the total U.S. population, constituting the world's largest foreign-born population. This Spotlight from MPI's Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova offers the most current and sought-after data on immigrants in the United States—including origin, educational attainment, the unauthorized, deportations, and more—in one easy-to-use resource.

President Obama's sweeping executive action to shield as many as 3.7 million unauthorized immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents from deportation is facing tough legal and political challenges. This month's Policy Beat examines the efforts to proceed with implementation of DAPA and the expansion of DACA despite a lawsuit brought by a coalition of 26 states and staunch opposition in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, radically altering U.S. policy and reshaping the demographic profile of the United States. Examining the foreign policy and domestic concerns leading to the law's enactment, David S. FitzGerald and David Cook-Martín argue that the demise of the national-origins quota system was driven by geopolitical factors.

With the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943 and normalization of U.S.-China relations in the late 1970s, Chinese immigration to the United States has steadily increased, to a population of more than 2 million. Using the latest data, this Spotlight highlights characteristics of Chinese immigrants from mainland China and Hong Kong, including their top state and metro areas of residence, immigration pathways, educational attainment, and more.

Normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States will have a significant impact on U.S. immigration policy and future Cuban migration to the United States. This Policy Beat explores the U.S.-Cuba migration relationship, as fear of changes to the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy has spurred hundreds of new boat arrivals in recent months.

In 2014 governments in Europe, North America, and Australia reacted to significant mixed flows of humanitarian, economic, and family-stream migrants with a range of new policies. These came as some migrants presented themselves to authorities for processing rather than trying to evade U.S. or European border controls, with the knowledge that backlogs and little political will for the removal of vulnerable populations might allow them to stay for extended periods.

After years of gridlock, increasing pressure from immigrant advocates, and several delays in 2014, President Obama announced sweeping executive actions to provide deportation relief to as many as 5.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States. The plan sparked a political firestorm among Republicans who vowed to use all tools at their disposal to block the actions, ensuring that immigration will continue to be a flashpoint for the remainder of the president's term.

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Reports
July 2006

This report provides an estimate of the taxes paid by immigrants in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, which encompasses the federal district and portions of Maryland and Virginia. It compares the tax payments of immigrant households with the contributions of native households between 1999 and 2000.

Reports
February 2009

This report assesses the performance of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over the course of the agency’s first six years, examines the effectiveness of the three core immigration agencies within DHS—U.S Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Reports
January 2010

Mexico's efforts to help its migrants succeed in the U.S. offer a new example of an immigrant-sending country looking to improve its emigrants' lives and connect with its diaspora. This report examines Mexico's approach to its migrants and details the activities of the government's attempt to map the expanding range of its educational, health care, financial, and civic programs.

Reports
June 2011

Since 1970, the immigrant populations from Mexico and Central America living in the United States have increased significantly: rising by a factor of 20 even as the total U.S. immigrant population increased four-fold over the period. This demographic report examines the age, educational, and workforce characteristics of these immigrants.

Reports
January 2013

The U.S. government spends more on federal immigration enforcement than on all other principal federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined, allocating nearly $187 billion since 1986. This report traces the evolution of the immigration enforcement system, analyzing how programs and policies resulted in a complex, interconnected, cross-agency system.

Reports
March 2004

La década de los noventa fue extraordinaria en términos de cantidad y diversidad cultural de trabajadores migratorios que vinieron a vivir a los Estados Unidos. Recién estamos comenzando a comprender las implicaciones a largo plazo de las decisiones y medidas tomadas por los trabajadores migratorios y por las instituciones americanas durante este período de fuerte crecimiento económico.

Reports
April 2015

Policymakers, the public, and the media were seemingly caught off-guard in spring 2014 when a surge of child migrants from Central America reached the U.S.-Mexico border in unprecedented numbers. Yet the uptick began in 2011. This report examines the causes of this surge and recommends policy solutions to advance both critical protection and enforcement goals in situations of complex, mixed flows.

Reports
September 2006

¿Qué clase de política y sistema de inmigración podría aprovechar los beneficios de la inmigración para avanzar los intereses nacionales de EE.UU. en el siglo XXI? El Grupo de Trabajo sobre Inmigración y el Futuro de los Estados Unidos fue convocado por el Instituto de Política Migratoria (MPI) debatir este tema.

Reports
March 2009

Funding for education in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has two primary objectives: 1) to help stimulate national economic recovery by providing jobs and building infrastructure in the state and local educational systems, and 2) to improve educational outcomes for children, particularly those most in need.

Reports
March 2010

This report provides an analytical framework for determining whether the 287(g) program is worth maintaining, and offers recommendations on how federal and local officials can shape the program to promote efficiency, accountability, and basic human rights, and to assist community leaders in monitoring the program.

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Fact Sheets
November 2003

Canada and Mexico’s importance to the United States is more than simply a border-state phenomenon. The trading relationship between United States and Canada represents the largest bilateral flow of income, goods, and services in the world. Meanwhile, Mexico is the United States’ second largest trading partner. Between NAFTA coming into effect and 2003, two-way trade between Canada and Mexico more than doubled.

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
August 2013

This fact sheet offers a detailed review of the comprehensive immigration reform legislation approved by the U.S. Senate in June 2013 and compares its major provisions with those of the five targeted immigration bills approved by the House Judiciary Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee.

Fact Sheets
January 2004

This report examines the characteristics of foreign-born workers in the United States based on the 2002 Current Population Survey. Findings relate to foreign-born workers age 16 and over participating in the civilian labor force.

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
May 2014

In a series of fact sheets focusing on the United States and a dozen key states, MPI assesses the extent of “brain waste”—that is, the number of college-educated immigrant and native-born adults ages 25 and older who are either unemployed or have jobs that are significantly below their education and skill levels.

Fact Sheets
January 2004

This report examines foreign-born participation in the United States’ labor market. It provides information and charts relating to the number and share of immigrant workers in the total civilian labor force and their employment rates.

Fact Sheets
August 2010

Over 5.3 million U.S. students during the 2007-08 academic year were enrolled in English Language Learner (ELL) programs. This fact sheet examines the states and districts with the highest number and share of ELL students and offers a detailed breakdown of key statistics.

Fact Sheets
July 2014

MPI has produced profiles of 15 diaspora communities in the United States, gathering in one place key demographic data and analysis on diasporas from Bangladesh, Colombia, El Salvador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The profiles examine population size, educational attainment, household income, employment patterns, geographic distribution, and remittance volume.

Fact Sheets
May 2004

Immigrants often work in traditionally unionized sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing and construction, or in occupations, such as services, that are becoming increasingly organized—yet little is known about their patterns of union representation. This report offers insight into the union affiliation, including membership and non-member coverage, of employed immigrant workers age 16 and over.

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Policy Briefs
April 2003

On November 25, 2002, Congress passed the Homeland Security Act, which effectively overhauled the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and called for a massive reorganization of immigration functions under the newly formed Department of Homeland Security (DHS).This report outlines key changes incurred, highlights points of concern and offers policy recommendations aimed at remedying some of these concerns.

Policy Briefs
May 2007

This report offers a series of original charts that depict the characteristics of recent immigrants who are representative of those likely to be affected by the proposed merit-based points system for selecting permanent immigrants to the United States.

Policy Briefs
August 2013

This issue brief analyzes the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides a two-year reprieve from deportation for eligible unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children. The study finds that 49 percent of the eligible population had applied during the program's first year, and reveals wide variation in application rates across states and national-origin groups.

Policy Briefs
April 2005

Although federal statute affords “the privilege of being represented,” to immigrants in removal proceedings, appointed counsel must be “at no expense to the government.” This report analyzes the “no expense” restriction and its effect on case outcomes. It then outlines a number of ways in which legal representation could be increased without significant federal funding.

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.

Policy Briefs
January 2014

This policy brief traces the successes and failures of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which represented the first and most comprehensive legislation to take on the issue of illegal immigration to the United States. The brief makes the case that IRCA's major flaws were rooted in statutory design more than regulatory challenges and implementation by the administrative agencies.

Policy Briefs
June 2005

This brief outlines the framework for MPI’s Independent Task Force on Immigration and America’s Future and highlights key issues in U.S. immigration policy it seeks to inform: upholding rule of law; developing policies that meet immigration/national security needs; managing immigration to increase economic competitiveness; and promoting economic and social integration. 

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
September 2014

In the absence of legislative movement to reform the U.S. immigration system, the Obama administration is considering executive action to provide relief from deportation to some of the nation's estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants. This issue brief examines a number of scenarios for possible executive action, estimating how many people could benefit.

Policy Briefs
June 2005

This policy brief examines the “twilight status” or the de facto partial recognition of two particular categories of immigrants within the United States’ broader undocumented population: those with legally recognized claims to eventual lawful permanent resident status; and those with legally recognized temporary statuses.

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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.

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.