U.S. Immigration Update: Who Has Arrived May Surprise You

Looking at immigration

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Socioeconomic Status

  • Despite similar rates of work, because a larger share of adult immigrants arrive with little education, immigrants are significantly more likely to work low-wage jobs, live in poverty, lack health insurance, use welfare, and have lower rates of home ownership. 
  • In 2014, 21 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) lived in poverty, compared to 13 percent of natives and their children. Immigrants and their children account for about one-fourth of all persons in poverty. 
  • Almost one in three children (under age 18) in poverty have immigrant fathers. 
  • In 2014, 18 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) lacked health insurance, compared to 9 percent of natives and their children. 
  • In 2014, 42 percent of immigrant-headed households used at least one welfare program (primarily food assistance and Medicaid), compared to 27 percent for natives. Both figures represent an undercount. If adjusted for undercount based on other Census Bureau data, the rate would be 57 percent for immigrants and 34 percent for natives. 
  • In 2014, 12 percent of immigrant households were overcrowded, using a common definition of such households. This compares to 2 percent of native households. 
  • Of immigrant households, 51 percent are owner-occupied, compared to 65 percent of native households. 
  • The lower socio-economic status of immigrants is not due to their being mostly recent arrivals. The average immigrant in 2014 had lived in the United States for almost 21 years. 

Immigrant Progress Over Time

  • Immigrants make significant progress the longer they live in the country. However, even immigrants who have lived in the United States for 20 years have not come close to closing the gap with natives. 
  • The poverty rate of adult immigrants who have lived in the United States for 20 years is 57 percent higher than for adult natives. 
  • The share of households headed by an immigrant who has lived in the United States for 20 years using at least one welfare program is 80 percent higher than native households. 
  • The share of households headed by an immigrant who has lived in the United States for 20 years that are owner occupied is 24 percent lower than that of native households. 

Impact on Public Schools

  • There are 10.9 million students from immigrant households in public schools, and they account for nearly 23 percent of all public school students. 
  • There are 64 public school students per 100 immigrant households, compared to 38 for native households. Because immigrant households tend to be poorer, immigration often increases school enrollment without a corresponding increase in the local tax base. 
  • In addition to increasing enrollment, immigration often creates significant challenges for schools by adding to the number of students with special needs. In 2014, 75 percent of students who spoke a language other than English were from immigrant households, as are 31 percent of all public school students in poverty. 
  • States with the largest share of public school students from immigrant households are California (47 percent), Nevada (37 percent), New York and New Jersey (33 percent each), and Texas (32 percent). 

Entrepreneurship 

  • Immigrants and natives have very similar rates of entrepreneurship — 12.4 percent of immigrants are self-employed either full- or part-time, as are 12.8 percent of natives. 
  • Most of the businesses operated by immigrants and natives tend to be small. In 2015, only 16 percent of immigrant-owned businesses had more than 10 employees, as did 19 percent of native-owned businesses. 

Impact on the Aging of American Society

  • Recent immigration has had a small impact on the nation's age structure. If post-2000 immigrants are excluded from the data, the median age in the United States would still be 37. 
  • Recent immigration has had a small impact on the nation's fertility rate. In 2014, the nation's total fertility rate (TFR) was 1.85 children per women. Excluding all immigrants, it would have been the rate for natives — 1.78 children per woman. The presence of immigrants has increased the nation's TFR by about 4 percent.

3.  Migration Policy Institute Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States, March 8, 2017 SPOTLIGHT By Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova

Current and Historical Numbers and Shares

How many immigrants reside in the United States?

The U.S. immigrant population stood at more than 43.3 million, or 13.5 percent, of the total U.S. population of 321.4 million in 2015, according to American Community Survey (ACS) data. Between 2014 and 2015, the foreign-born population increased by 899,000, or 2.1 percent, a slower growth rate compared to 2.5 percent between 2013 and 2014.

According to the 2016 Current Population Survey (CPS), immigrants and their U.S.-born children now number approximately 84.3 million people, or 27 percent of the overall U.S. population.

How many people immigrated to the United States last year?

In 2015, 1.38 million foreign-born individuals moved to the United States, a 2 percent increase from 1.36 million in 2014. India was the leading country of origin for recent immigrants, with 179,800 arriving in 2015, followed by 143,200 from China, 139,400 from Mexico, 47,500 from the Philippines, and 46,800 from Canada. In 2013, India and China overtook Mexico as the top origin countries for recent arrivals.

While most of these new arrivals are immigrants new to the country, some are naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, and others who might have lived in the United States for some time prior to returning in 2015.

Note: The Census Bureau defines recent immigrants as foreign-born individuals 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 2015; as well as temporary nonimmigrants and unauthorized immigrants.

Sources:

PEW Research PRE Research Key findings about U.S. immigrants BY GUSTAVO LÓPEZ AND KRISTEN BIALIK 

Center for Immigration StudiesImmigrants in the United States, 2016,  By Steven A. Camarota  October 2016 

Migration Policy Institute Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States March 8, 2017 SPOTLIGHT By Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova

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