Irrespective of whether you happen to be from the neighboring nation of Mexico or from far of India, irrespective of whether you happen to be from some highly developed nation like Canada or some poverty struck nation of Africa, it is highly unlikely that you wouldn’t want to settle in the United States of America. The country has been on people’s wish list since ages, and a glimpse of US immigration facts highlights this very fact. Immigration has been a major factor when it comes to population growth in the United States. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that immigration – with special reference to Latin American and Asian countries, has played an important role in shaping the United States of America that we get to see today.
History of Immigration in the United States
Immigration in North America began with the in-migration of humans from Southeast Asia during the last glacial period. The land bridge used by these people to migrate eventually disappeared with melting of ice, and they were left stranded on the North American continent. These people eventually evolved into indigenous people of the continent. Immigration continued as time elapsed – with Europeans coming to America shortly after Christopher Columbus discovered it in the 15th century. Large scale in migration was also recorded during the mid-19th century and at the turn of the 20th century.
The introduction of National Origins Formula – a system of immigration quotas, restricted immigration in the United States between 1921 and 1965. When it was finally abolished with the implementation of Immigration and Naturalization Services Act of 1965, it opened the doors of the nation for immigrants from all over the world. Since then immigration has not just fueled population growth in the United States, but also contributed to the cultural change that the country has witnessed.
US Immigration Facts and Statistics: 2011 Edition
As far as facts and figures are concerned, the compilation of nation’s immigration facts can help you get a better picture of the present day scenario. The number of first-generation immigrants in the United States has increased from 9.6 million in 1970 to 38 million as of 2007. This four time rise can be attributed to liberalization of immigration policy with the implementation of Immigration and Naturalization Services Act of 1965. As you can see in the table given below, more than half of the immigrants in the United States come from Mexico. At the same time, Asian nations like Philippines, China, India and Vietnam also have a significant share in the same.
The number of legal immigrants in the United States has increased from 2.5 million in the 1950s to 38 million as of 2007. A breakup of immigration facts and statistics reveals that the same was 4.5 million in 1970s, then increased to 7.3 million in 1980s and eventually reached 10 million in 1990s. When the US population clock reached 300 million mark, it was revealed that the net international migration adds one person to the population of the United States every 31 seconds. As of today, the United States of America accepts more legal immigrants as permanent residents than what all the other nations of the world together do.
The practice of acquisition of citizenship or nationality by a person who was not born in the said country is referred to as naturalization. As many as 1,046,539 individuals have become American nationals by resorting to the practice of naturalization. Family reunification – wherein the presence of one family member results in in-migration of the entire family, is yet another crucial factor when it comes to immigration in different countries, the United States is no exception. According to the immigration statistics, two-thirds of immigration in the United States can be attributed to family reunification.
Illegal Immigration Facts and Statistics
In the United States, illegal immigration refers to violation of US immigration laws and/or national policies by a foreign national to enter the country. It doesn’t just include crossing over the border, but also includes overstaying visa and violation of visa terms. Unlike legal immigration – wherein you can monitor those people who are entering the country, it is absolutely impossible to keep a check on illegal immigration, and therefore it has surfaced as one of the biggest problem for the country. With very little reliable data, we are left with no option but to depend on estimated figures when it comes to illegal immigration facts and statistics. These estimates suggest that the number of illegal immigrants in the country lies somewhere between 9-20 million. Again Mexico tops the list of illegal immigrants – with as many as 57 percent of the illegal immigrants coming from this Latin American nation. The fact that the US administration has to spend approximately US$40 billion for deportation of illegal immigrants every year speaks in volumes about this problem.
If you thought that was all, here is something that is even more staggering. If the projected population growth is taken into consideration, the US population is all set to reach 438 million mark by 2050. Estimates reveal that 82 percent of this population rise will be attributed to immigration. More importantly, it will just take 7-8 decades – at the current birth rate and immigration rate, for the US population to reach the 600 million mark, and that will be double the population of the United States today.
By Abhijit Naik