U.S. Immigrant Population at All-Time High: 40 Million
Posted on November 16, 2011
The number of foreign-born residents in the United States — including legal and illegal immigrants — reached 40 million last year, the highest figure in American history, new Census Bureau figures disclose.
Nearly 14 million new immigrants came to America from 2000 to 2010, making it the highest-ever decade for immigration.
The increase came even though there was a net decline of jobs during the decade, showing that immigration remains high even during periods of economic weakness.
“This does not mean that immigration is entirely unconnected to the U.S. job market,” observes Steven A. Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, who analyzed the new Census figures for the Center.
“But these figures are a reminder that immigration levels are not as tightly linked to the economy as some have imagined. Such factors as the desire to access public services or to enjoy greater political freedom or join relatives in the United States significantly impact migration.”
Of the 40 million foreign-born residents in the country, from 10 million to 12 million are likely illegal aliens, the Bureau reports.
Other findings from the newly released American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau include:
- America’s immigrant population has doubled since 1990 and nearly tripled since 1980.
- Although the number of immigrants in the U.S. is at an all-time high, the immigrant share of the population, now 12.9 percent, was higher in 1910 (14.7 percent) and 1920 (13.2 percent).
- While the total immigrant population grew 28 percent between 2000 and 2010, it grew by at least 60 percent in 11 states, including Alabama (92 percent), South Carolina (88 percent), Tennessee (82 percent), Arkansas (79 percent), and Kentucky (75 percent). The lowest rate of growth was in New York, 11.1 percent.
- States with the largest numerical increases during that decade were California, Texas, Florida, New York, and New Jersey.
- 27 percent of the population of California is foreign-born, followed by New York (22 percent), New Jersey (21 percent), Florida (19 percent), and Nevada (18.8 percent). In West Virginia, just 1.2 percent are immigrants.
- Countries in Latin America accounted for 58 percent of the growth in the immigrant population from 2000 to 2010.
- Mexico was by far the origin of the most immigrants during that decade, nearly 12 million, followed by China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, 2.16 million; India, 1.78 million; Philippines, 1.77 million; Vietnam, 1.24 million; and El Salvador, 1.21 million.
- In Montana, 58 percent of foreign-born residents are citizens; in Hawaii, 57 percent are citizens; and in Maine, 56.6 percent. Just 27.7 percent of immigrants in Alabama are citizens.
Camarota concludes: “Absent a change in policy, new immigration will likely continue at very high levels.”