United States Immigration by the Numbers
November 1, 2018
In 2017, the number of immigrants in the United States reached almost 50 million. Foreign born residents comprised over 15 percent of the total American population. The number of immigrants heading to America has significantly increased since 1990, when only 25 million immigrants lived in the United States, comprising a mere 9 percent of the total population.
The United Nations recently released significant data related to the current immigration population in the United States. According to the U.N. research, the top ten countries from which immigrants come to the United States are, in order: Mexico, China, India, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, El Salvador, Cuba, South Korea, and the Dominican Republic.
Immigration from Mexico
There are approximately 12 million Mexican immigrants living in the United States today. According to the U.N. study, this accounts for over 25 percent of the immigrants living in the United States. Mexican immigrants have remained the largest immigrant population for the last several decades.
The high percentage of total Mexican immigrants to the United States (25 percent) is over five times greater than the next nearest country, China, which accounts for just 4.9 percent of immigrants. The current administration has frequently focused its immigration enforcement efforts on Mexico, presumably because of its high immigration numbers.
Rise of Asian Immigrants
Demographics in the immigration population have changed over the last quarter century. One significant trend found in the U.N. immigration data reveals that more and more immigrants have come from Asian countries. While countries such as Cuba, Canada and Germany had outranked Asian countries in terms of immigration to the United States in the past, this is no longer the case. The number of Chinese immigrants, approximately 2.4 million, ranks second only to that of Mexico.
India now ranks third with over 2.3 million immigrants, a significant increase from its 13th position in 1990. Philippines ranked fourth on the list, comprising 4.2 percent of the immigration population. Combined, the Asian countries of China, India and the Philippines now represent almost 14 percent of the total immigrants residing in the U.S. today.
The United Nations also provided data on American citizens who have emigrated to other countries. Approximately three million individuals born in the United States reside outside of the country. In 2017, the top six foreign countries and territories to which Americans have moved include: Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Germany and Australia.
Over 900,000 Americans resided in Mexico in 2017, making it the top foreign country for Americans who have emigrated. This demonstrates a significant exchange of people in both directions, as Mexico continues to be the country of origin for the largest population of immigrants living in the U.S. today.
Many American-born immigrants will relocate to other English-speaking countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, or Australia. This is a significant difference from immigrants to the United States, who most often do not speak English as a first language. The data also revealed that while North Americans may be emigrating more often to these countries, the reverse is not true. Since 1990, the percentage of immigrants residing in the U.S. from Canada and the United Kingdom both have decreased.
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