Immigration Facts

United States


Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 313,914,040
Population (2000 CB est.) 281,421,906
Foreign-Born Population (2011 CB est.) 40,377,860
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 31,107,889
Share Foreign-Born (2011) 13.0%
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 10.1%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2011 CB est.): 18,142,197
Share Naturalized (2011) 44.9%
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2011) 10,436,527
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2011) 808,063
Illegal Alien Population (2010 FAIR est.) 11,900,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $83,665,408,222
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 460,681,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of United States in 2012 was 313,914,040 residents.

Between 2000 (population 281,421,906) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was 2,732,363 residents. That was an annual average change of 0.9 percent. The comparable national annual rate of change was 0.9 percent.

Between 1990 (population 248,709,875) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 3,271,203 residents. The annual average rate of change was 1.2 percent compared to the national rate of change of 1.2 percent.

Foreign-Born Population

According to the Census Bureau the foreign-born population of United States was about 40,377,860 persons in 2011. This estimate meant a foreign-born population share of 13.0 percent. The chart above shows the long-term change in the state's foreign-born population based on Census Bureau data.

Foreign-Born Change

Between 2000 and 2011 the Census Bureau estimate indicates an average annual rate of change in the foreign-born population of about 823,997 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about 2,732,363 people. That is a 30.7 percent share of the state's population change (not including the children born in the United States to illegal aliens). The foreign-born population grew by 28.6 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Immigration also contributes to population growth through the U.S.-born children of immigrants. Nationally the share of births to the foreign-born is about double their share of the population. A 25.9 percent share of the state's current births is large enough to account for about 831,007 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 1,655,005 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly 61.7 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2011 about 35.7 percent of United States's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 35.7 percent. In 2000, 42.4 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in United States's immigrant population may be seen in data on the share of the population over five years of age that speaks a language other than English at home. Between 2000 and 2010, the share of non-English speakers changed from 17.9 percent to 20.6 percent. In 2000, 45.4 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2010 estimate, the share was 42.4 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2010 Spanish speakers were 62.1 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 65.5 percent of those who spoke English less than very well.

The chart above shows the regional composition of the state's foreign-born population and how it has changed from between 2000 and 2010.


Census Bureau data in 2011 indicate that 18,142,197 residents of United States, or 44.9 percent of the foreign-born population in United States, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 12,542,626 residents, or 40.3 percent, in 2000.

Nationally, 40.3 percent of the foreign-born population was naturalized in 2000, and 44.9 percent in 2011.

Net International Migration (NIM)

Data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), the Census Bureau estimated that between 2000 and 2011, the change in United States's population resulting from net international migration has been about 715,433 people. It was 31.4 percent of total change (not including the children born to the immigrants after their arrival in the United States). 1   The remainder was due to net domestic migration and natural change (births minus deaths).


  1. A negative percentage results when there was an overall population decrease. A percentage greater than 100 percent results when domestic migration is negative, i.e, a net loss from interstate migration.

Immigrant Admissions

Recent "green card" recipients who intend to reside in United States were 200.6 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 348,534 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 1,079,005 persons. Immigrant admissions data are from the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.

The chart above shows recent immigrant admissions and the cumulative amount of immigrant admissions since FY'65. The cumulative total of immigrant admissions to United States between fiscal years 1965 and 2011 has been 35,026,938 persons.

The data for fiscal years 1989-91 were artificially raised by the inclusion of former illegal aliens who were amnestied in 1986. According to INS data (1991) the number of amnesty applicants from United States was 3,018,691 (1,754,882 pre-1982 residents and 1,263,809 agricultural workers). These data were published by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and reported in "Report on the Legalized Alien Population," March 1992.

Admissions by Nationality: FY'96 - FY'05

The table below furnishes INS data by nationality on the immigrants who were admitted for residence in United States between 1996 and 2005.

The INS data are for nationals of the countries with the largest number of immigrants admitted or adjusted to legal residence each year since 1996. The absence of data means that the total number of admissions to the United States by nationals of that country was not enough to merit detailed reporting in that year.

The Department of Homeland Security website has detailed data on immigrant admissions since FY'03 by year and by source country and intended state of residence. (See then select the desired year, click Legal Permanent Residents, data and then select "supplemental table 1."

Chart of Immigrant Admission by Fiscal Year


United States has received 808,063 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years including 56,419 refugees in fiscal year 2011. The chart above shows the annual admissions over the last ten years and the cumulative total of those admissions using data complied by the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The U.S. government program that distributes new refugees among the states is the only immigration program that provides state governments the opportunity to participate in deciding how many newcomers will come to that state each year.

Illegal Aliens

United States Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $40,883.00 48.9%
LEP educ. $8,269.90 9.9%
Medicaid+ $8,553.10 10.2%
SCHIP $2,270.40 2.7%
Justice $8,687.20 10.4%
Welfare+ $5,289.50 6.3%
General $9,468.20 11.3%
Total $83,665.40  
Tax receipts $3,966.60  
Net Cost $79,698.80  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of United States as of 2010 was about 11,900,000 persons. This is part of an overall estimate of the U.S. illegal alien population of about 11,900,000 persons.

DHS Estimate - The current estimate by DHS of the illegal alien population in United States was 10,790,000 in 2010. The DHS estimate is available for only the 10 states with the largest illegal alien populations. The DHS estimate of the national illegal alien population in 2010 was 10,790,000.

Other Estimates - The Pew Hispanic Center estimates the illegal alien population of the state at 11,200,000 as of 2010.

Fiscal Cost of Illegal Aliens

FAIR's most recent estimate of the cost outlays due to illegal immigration and tax receipts from illegal aliens in United States are as shown on the right:

Limited English Proficiency Students

Data are not available nationally on immigrant students (either legally or illegally resident in the United States) who are enrolled in primary and secondary schools (K-12). However, a large majority of these students enrolled in Limited English Proficiency/English Language Learning (LEP/ELL) instruction programs may be assumed to be children of either legal or illegal immigrants with a predominance of children of illegal aliens.

In United States, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 4,647,016) was 124.7 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 105.9 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected United States's population in 2050 likely would be between 443,808,000 million and 460,681,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (368,194,000) if immigration were reduced to a level where it balanced the number of U.S. residents leaving to reside outside of the United states, i.e., zero-net immigration. See "Projecting the U.S. Population to 2050: Four Immigration Scenarios," FAIR 2006.

Foreign Students

Data compiled by the Institute of International Education (IIE) record the number of foreign students attending post-secondary school in United States as 765,525 in 2012.

The chart above illustrates the change in the number of foreign students attending school in United States since 1997.

For information on foreign student issues see: Foreign Students in the United States.

Immigration Impact

Population Profile

The U.S. population has long been characterized by rapid growth and shows no signs of slowing. In 1800 the population was about 5.3 million. By 1850, it was nearly than 23.2 million residents. Fifty years later, the population was more than 76.2 million. In 2000 the population reached more than 281.4 million, and ten years later the population reached nearly 309 million. This has meant a rapidly growing population density. Setting aside national parks and forests and water area, the nation has about 3.1 million square miles of land - some of which will be desert and mountains or dedicated to agriculture. But, using the 3.1 million square miles, our population has grown from less than two residents per square mile in 1800 to 24.5 residents per square mile in 1900 and to nearly 100 persons per square mile today.


Environmental and Quality of Life Profile

Water: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "In the last five years, nearly every region of the country has experienced water shortages. At least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013, even under non-drought conditions."1 Because much of the water consumed by the population comes from aquifers and lakes and is being consumed faster than it is being replenished, shortages are inevitable as population grows unless offset with reduced levels of consumption - keeping in mind that there is a minimum amount of water consumption needed to sustain life and hygiene. This fact has given rise to the term "peak water" to educate the public about the impact of a growing population on diminishing resources.

Traffic: According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), "America's $1.75 trillion public highway system is in jeopardy. Years of wear and tear, unrelenting traffic, an explosion of heavy trucks, deferred maintenance, harsh weather conditions, and soaring construction costs have taken their toll on America’s roads."2 An AASHTO report states that only half of the nation’s roads are in good condition. The deterioration of the road system is both a factor of the unrelenting increase in the number of miles driven and inadequate maintenance. Road usage increased by more than 41 percent - from 2.1 trillion miles in 1990 to 3 trillion in 2007.3

The number of motor vehicles has been rising even faster than population. The U.S. population has grown by an average of about 3.2 million residents per year since 1960 while the number of vehicles has increased by about 3.3 million each year.4 Nevertheless, the relationship between population growth and number of vehicles and miles driven and highway congestion and wear is clear.

Infrastructure: The American Society of Civil Engineers periodically releases a report card on the state of the nation's infrastructure systems. In its 2009 report it assigned the following grades:5

Aviation D
Bridges C
Dams D
Drinking Water D-
Energy D+
Hazardous Waste D
Inland Waterways D-
Levees D-
Public Parks and Recreation    C-
Rail C-
Roads D-
Schools D
Solid Waste C+
Wastewater D-

As is the case with the highway system, each of the above infrastructure systems is subject to increasing pressure as population increases. Choices must be made between investment in infrastructure expansion and maintenance of existing infrastructure investments. If population were stabilized, resources would then be dedicated to only maintenance or replacement of existing infrastructure systems.

Sprawl: A study of urban sprawl between 1970 and 1990 calculated the impact on of population increase and per capita land use on expanding metropolitan areas. It found that among the 100 largest urbanized areas in the country, they had collectively consumed an additional 14,545 square miles, i.e., more than 9 million acres of natural habitat, farmland or other rural space. It found that about half of the sprawl was due to population growth and the other half was due to consumption choices.6

  1. "Water Supply in the U.S.", EPA, website consulted Spt. 14, 2012 (
  2. "Rough Roads Ahead: Saving America's Highways," American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, 2009.
  3. ibid.
  4. "Highway Statistics 2010," U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, website consulted September 17, 2012 (
  5. "2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure," American Society of Civil Engineers, website consulted September 17, 2012 (
  6. Beck, Roy and Leon Kolankiewicz, "Weighing Sprawl Factors in Large U.S. Cities," NumbersUSA, March 2001.