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US Immigrant Population at Record 40 Million in 2010





While the number of immigrants in the country is higher than at any time in American history, the immigrant share of the population (12.9 percent) was higher 90 years ago.


Growth in the immigrant population has primarily been driven by high levels of legal immigration. Roughly three-fourths of immigrants in the country are here legally.







WASHINGTON DC, October 6th 2011 --

New Center for Immigration Studies' analysis of Census Bureau data shows US immigrant population (legal and illegal), also referred to as the foreign born, reached 40 million in 2010, the highest number in American history.


Nearly 14 million new immigrants (legal and illegal) settled in the country from 2000 to 2010, making it the highest decade of immigration in American history. This is the case even though there was a net decline of jobs during the decade. In contrast, from 1990 to 2000, job growth exceeded 20 million and slightly fewer immigrants arrived (13.2 million).


Steven A. Camarota's Memorandum, "A Record-Setting Decade of Immigration: 2000-2010," is available on the Center for Immigration Studies' website at: http://cis.org/2000-2010-record-setting-decade-of-immigration.


The nation's immigrant population has doubled since 1990, nearly tripled since 1980, and quadrupled since 1970 when it stood at 9.7 million.


Of the 40 million immigrants in the country in 2010, 13.9 million arrived in 2000 or later making it the highest decade of immigration in American history.


New arrivals are offset by out-migration and deaths. As a result, the net increase was more than 8.8 million over the last decade, from 31.1 million in 2000.


While the number of immigrants in the country is higher than at any time in American history, the immigrant share of the population (12.9 percent) was higher 90 years ago.


Growth in the immigrant population has primarily been driven by high levels of legal immigration. Roughly three-fourths of immigrants in the country are here legally.



Immigrants continue to head to non-traditional states of settlement. The six states with the largest immigrant populations accounted for 65 percent of the total in 2010, 68 percent in 2000, and 73 percent in 1990.


Overall the immigrant population grew 28 percent between 2000 and 2010. But it grew at more than twice the national rate in: Alabama (92%), South Carolina (88%), Tennessee (82%), Arkansas (79%), Kentucky (75%), North Carolina (67%), South Dakota (65%), Georgia (63%), Indiana (61%), Nevada (61%), Delaware (60%), Virginia (60%), and Oklahoma (57%).


Since 1990 the immigrant population has doubled. It grew at more than twice the national rate in: North Carolina (525%), Georgia (445%), Arkansas (430%), Tennessee (389%), Nevada (385%), South Carolina (337%), Kentucky (312%), Nebraska (298%), Alabama (287%), Utah (280%), Colorado (249%), Minnesota (235%), Delaware (223%), Iowa (222%), Indiana (219%), Oklahoma (215%) and Arizona (208%).


States with the largest numerical increase over the last decade were: California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.


Latin America continued to dominate immigration. Countries from this region accounted for 58 percent of the growth in the immigrant population from 2000 to 2010.


With nearly 12 million immigrants, Mexico was by far the top immigrant-sending country, accounting for 29 percent of all immigrants.


Countries in addition to Mexico have also seen significant growth in their populations. In 1990 there was only one sending-country with more than 1 million immigrants in the United States, by 2000 there were four such countries and in 2010 there were eight.


Discussion:
The finding that immigration was so high in the first decade of the 21st century is important because it is a reminder that immigration is a complex process; and it is impacted by many factors in addition to labor market conditions in this country. The desire to access public services, enjoy greater political freedom, or join relatives in the United States all affect the decision to migrate. These things do not change even if there is little or no job growth. Moreover, the opportunities available in the United States may still be much better than in many sending countries even if the US economy is experiencing a prolonged period of weak job growth.


It is also important to understand that immigration is driven in part by social networks of friends and family who provide information about conditions in the United States and often help new immigrants after they arrive. As the immigrant population grows, it creates momentum for more immigration. None of this means that the level of immigration is unaffected by the economy. There is evidence that immigration levels were affected to some extent by the economy during the last decade. However, the evidence is clear that the level of new immigration remained high, even in the face of a prolonged period of weak job growth.


Data Source:
The data for this Center for Immigration Studies analysis comes primarily from the American Community Survey (ACS) collected by the Census Bureau. The ACS has become one of the primary sources of data on the size and growth of the nation's immigrant (or foreign-born) population. Immigrants are persons living in the United States who were not American citizens at birth. This includes naturalized American citizens, legal permanent residents (green card holders), illegal aliens, and people on long-term temporary visas such as foreign students or guest workers, who respond to the ACS. It does not include those born abroad of American parents or those born in outlying territories of the United States.


The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institute that examines the impact of immigration on the United States.









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