National Security & Defense

U.S. Immigrant Population Hits Record High of 42.4 Million

(Photo Illustration: NRO)

The U.S. immigrant population reached a record high of 42.4 million according to a new analysis of census data — and the growth rate of the foreign-born population is accelerating. A new Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) report shows the legal- and illegal-immigrant population grew by 2.4 million since 2010, with more than a million new arrivals in 2014.

The dramatic increases in immigration are evident in both absolute numbers of the foreign born and as a share of the U.S. population. “Immigrants (legal and illegal) comprised 13.3 percent or about one out of eight U.S. residents in 2014, the highest percentage in 104 years,” the report notes. And the growth in the immigrant population is accelerating rapidly, from an increase of a half million immigrants per year between 2010 and 2012 to over a million from 2013 to 2014.

The immigrant share of the population has more than doubled from what it was in 1980, when illegal and legal immigrants together made up just 6.2 percent of the country.

Additionally, when the 16.2 million U.S.-born children of immigrant parents are included, one in six U.S. residents is an immigrant or the child of an immigrant – a total of 58.6 million people in 2014.

The authors of the study, Steven A. Camarota and Karen Zeigler, used data from the Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey (ACS) which, according to the report, “allows for a more detailed analysis [of the immigrant population] by country of origin and state of residence.” According to CIS, the survey is the largest conducted by the government each year and provides a more in-depth look at the composition of the American population than the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, which, though released more regularly, does not measure the immigrant population as comprehensively and uses a smaller sample size.

#share#Sub-Saharan African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries saw the largest relative growth in immigrant flows. Immigration from predominantly Muslim countries grew at a rate of 19 percent between 2010 and 2014, including immigration from Saudi Arabia (up 93 percent), Bangladesh (up 37 percent), and Iraq (up 36 percent). Canada and Europe declined as sources of immigration to the U.S.

#related#The analysis comes on the heels of two CIS reports earlier this month showing that a majority (51 percent) of households headed by immigrants used at least one welfare program — such as Medicaid, food aid, housing programs, and cash assistance — significantly higher than the rate of welfare use among native-born–headed households (30 percent). The studies showed that three-fourths of immigrant households using welfare were headed by legal immigrants.

The reports raised questions for supporters of mass immigration who claim that it is an unalloyed benefit to the United States.

— Mark Antonio Wright is an intern at National Review.

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