The United States has been the top destination for immigrants since ever since the beginning of its history. Currently one-fifth of the world’s migrants living here. Despite its long history of immigration, the United States has debated between perceiving immigration as a valuable resource and as a major challenge.
The 2016 election and significant actions on immigration taken by the Trump administration have further raised the issue in political and public debates. More than ever, immigration is closely tied to discussions about the U.S. economy, national security, and the country’s role in humanitarian practices.
The most current data available, indicates that about the nearly 44 million immigrants were living in the United States in 2016.
Based on leading statistics, this article will answer some of these questions; How many people have immigrated to the United States, and through which channels? How many entered as refugees, and from which countries? Is Mexico still the top country of origin of immigrants? Has the number of unauthorized immigrants changed in recent years? What jobs do immigrants tend to hold in the U.S. labor market? And how many U.S. residents are either immigrants or children of immigrants?
The article draws on resources from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI); the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey (ACS), and 2000 decennial census; the most recent data from the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security (DHS).
How many immigrants reside in the United States?
More than 43.7 million immigrants resided in the United States in 2016, accounting for 13.5 percent of the total U.S. population of 323.1 million, according to American Community Survey (ACS) data. Between 2015 and 2016, the foreign-born population increased by about 449,000, or 1 percent, a rate slower than the 2.1 percent growth experienced between 2014 and 2015.
Immigrants and their U.S.-born children now number approximately 86.4 million people, or 27 percent of the overall U.S. population, according to the 2017 Current Population Survey (CPS).
How many immigrants moved to the United States in 2016?
In 2016, 1.49 million foreign-born individuals moved to the United States, a 7 percent increase from the 1.38 million coming in 2015. India was the leading country of origin, with 175,100 arriving in 2016, followed by 160,200 from China/Hong Kong, 150,400 from Mexico, 54,700 from Cuba, and 46,600 from the Philippines. India and China surpassed Mexico in 2013 as the top origin countries for recent arrivals. Among the top countries of recent immigrants,
Many more Cuban born arrived in 2016 (54,700) compared to 2015 (31,500)—an increase of 74 percent. In contrast, Canadian arrivals dropped 19 percent: 38,400 in 2016, versus 47,300 in 2015.
While most of these arrivals are new to the United States, some may have previously resided in the country. Newly arrived immigrants are defined here as foreign-born individuals (ages 1 and older) who resided abroad one year prior to the survey, including naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, and others who might have lived in the United States for some time prior to 2016; as well as temporary non immigrants and unauthorized immigrants.
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How have the number and share of immigrants in the United States changed over time?
Data on the nativity of the U.S. population were first collected in 1850. That year, there were 2.2 million immigrants, representing nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population.
Between 1860 and 1920, the immigrant share of the overall population fluctuated between 13 percent and almost 15 percent, peaking at 14.8 percent in 1890, mainly due to high levels of immigration from Europe.
Restrictive immigration laws in 1921 and 1924, coupled with the Great Depression and World War II, led to a sharp drop in new arrivals. As a result, the foreign-born share steadily declined, hitting a record low of approximately 5 percent in 1970 (9.6 million; see Table 1). Since then, the share and number of immigrants have increased rapidly, mainly because of large-scale immigration from Latin America and Asia made possible by the Immigration Act of 1965, which abolished national-origin admission quotas. The immigrant population more than quadrupled in the decades since, reaching 43.7 million in 2016.