Five Facts on U.S. Immigration

In light of ongoing U.S. debate about immigration policy, Learning Life offers the following five facts to better understand immigration in the United States.  Thanks to Learning Life volunteer, Craig Gusmann, for helping to research and write these facts.  Click here for more brief facts on other current topics.     

1) 81 million immigrants

Immigrants in the United States and their U.S.-born children now number approximately 81 million people, or 26 percent of the overall U.S. population.

2) 30% managers and professionals

Thirty percent of legal immigrants work in management, professional, and related positions.  Twenty-five percent work in service occupations.  In 2014, 25 million immigrants were in the workforce.

3) Mexico, China and India

In 2014, 1,016,518 immigrants became lawful permanent residents (“Green Card” holders).  The largest numbers came from Mexico (13 percent), China (8 percent), and India (8 percent).  Citizenship is different from lawful permanent residency (LPR).  LPR essentially grants the right to live and work in the United States.  Citizenship grants the right to vote, a U.S. passport (allowing easier exit and entry in the U.S.), and easier access to all kinds of government benefits.

4) 6 million children

From 2009-2013, approximately 5.1 million children in the United States had at least one parent who is an unauthorized immigrant. Four million of these children are U.S. citizens by birth.

5) Family, work and diversity

The United States allows new immigrants based on these three criteria.  The majority (66% in 2013) become residents based on a family relationship with a U.S. citizen, or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.


The Migration Policy Institute’s statistics on U.S. immigration

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s 2014 Annual Flow Report