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How many immigrants live in the United States and where do they come from?

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The US Census Bureau estimates that there were 37.6 million foreign-born people living in the United States in March 2010. The term “foreign-born” is how the Census Bureau refers to anyone born outside the United States. The foreign-born population includes naturalized citizens, non-citizen legal immigrants, and undocumented immigrants. NOTE: 37.6 million is just an estimate. The actual number is probably higher because there are millions of undocumented immigrants living in the shadows. For estimates of the size of the undocumented population, see my earlier article.

Making up 31% of the foreign-born population, Mexicans were by far the largest immigrant group at last count in March 2010

 

Origins
Nearly 31 percent of the foreign-born population is Mexican. Mexicans are by far the largest immigrant group in the United States. After Mexicans, the next largest immigrant groups are Chinese, Indians, and Filipinos, who each make up roughly 5 percent of the total immigrant population. Next are Vietnamese, Salvadorans, Cubans, Russians, Koreans, and Dominicans—groups that each make up roughly 2.5 percent of the immigrant population. The remaining 40 percent of immigrants come from an incredible mix of countries: Canada, Guatemala, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Jamaica, Germany, Haiti, Honduras, and many others. No country in the world has an immigrant population as remotely large and diverse as the United States.

When analyzing the foreign-born population relative to total US population, we can see that immigration today is not as high as immigration between 1860-1920

How does immigration today compare to the past?
At more than 37 million people, the foreign-born population has never been higher (although the Great Recession that began in 2007 has caused a slowing of immigration, just as the Great Depression did in the 1930s). But because population is always increasing, a more useful and interesting way to make comparisons is to think about the number of immigrants relative to total US population. Today, about 12.5 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born. This is higher than the historical average, but definitely not record-breaking. Between 1850-1920, in fact, millions of immigrants came from places like Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia, and Eastern Europe. Between 1860 and 1920, immigrants made up between 13.2 and 14.8 percent of total US population. Immigration plunged during and after the 1930s as a result of restrictive immigration laws and the Great Depression.

13 Comments

  1. Citu Tesfaye says:

    Can you show me the exact number of immigrants from Africa, especially Ethiopia,and Nigeria.

  2. Mei says:

    do u have the statistic about how many immigrants were there in 2011? cuz i need to do a comparison between immigrants in 2010 and 2011. thanks that i found data for 2010. but still need 2011:(

  3. Umar says:

    Mr. Roy Germano, can you please highlight for me, in what ways are the needs of migrants’ personal identity affected by governmental policies to insure cultural and national unity?

  4. jennifer says:

    This website is awesome as well as the documentary. I love them. They are actually the ones that influence me to do my research paper in my college, here in New York is hard, but the website has been giving me a lot of help. Thanks Roy for making it =]

  5. Shaq says:

    How do I cite this website? I am also doing a paper on this subject, I am doing an oral presentation and this is great information to include in my research.

  6. Alissa Ellis says:

    I am so happy I found your website, it helped me write a paper for my English class. And it made citing your work so simple. Thank you for having such information available.

  7. mirelis says:

    this website is so cool and i love it i was doing an absract and i got all the information from here adn i am just thanking you for making this website about immigrants.

  8. [...] Read about the total number of immigrants living in the US and historical comparisons here. [...]

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