The Last Five Years Represented The Highest Immigration In U.S. History (A Report From The Center For Immigration Studies)

December 12, 2005: The Last Five Years Represented The Highest Immigration In U.S. History (A Report From The Center For Immigration Studies)

Last 5 Years Highest Immigration in History

Report: 7.9 Million Immigrants Settled Since 2000, Nearly Half Illegal

WASHINGTON (December 12, 2005) With the nation poised to debate fundamental changes to its immigration system, an analysis of new Census Bureau data shows that nearly 8 million immigrants (legal and illegal) have settled in the country since January 2000, nearly half of them illegal aliens. In addition, the report provides a detailed picture of the socio-economic status of todays immigrants.

The report, Immigrants at Mid-Decade: A Snapshot of Americas Foreign-Born Population in 2005, is online at Among the findings:

Between January 2000 and March 2005, 7.9 million new immigrants (legal and illegal) settled in the country, making it the highest five-year period of immigration in American history.

Nearly half of post-2000 arrivals (3.7 million) are estimated to be illegal aliens.

New arrivals are offset by deaths and return migration among the existing immigrant population, so that the total number here increased by 5.2 million since 2000, half of whom are illegals.

The 35.2 million immigrants (legal and illegal) here in March of 2005 is the highest ever recorded two and a half times the 13.5 million during the peak of the last great immigration wave in 1910.

Immigrants account for 12.1 percent of the total population, the highest percentage in 8 decades. If current trends continue, within a decade it will surpass the high of 14.7 percent reached in 1910.

States with the largest increase in immigrants are, in descending order, California, Texas, Georgia, New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, Washington, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Arizona, Tennessee, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Mississippi.

Of adult immigrants, 31 percent have not completed high school, three-and-a-half times the rate for natives. Since 1990, immigration has increased the number of such low-skilled workers by 25 percent, while increasing the supply of all other workers by only 6 percent.

Immigrants were once significantly more likely to have a college degree, but the new data show that natives are now as likely as immigrants to have a bachelors or graduate degree.

The proportion of immigrant-headed households using at least one major welfare program is 29 percent, compared to 18 percent for native households.

The poverty rate of immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) is 18.4 percent, 57 percent higher than the 11.7 percent for natives and their children. Immigrants and their children account for almost one in four persons in poverty.

One third of immigrants lack health insurance two-and-one-half times the rate for natives. Immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 30 percent of the uninsured.

The low educational level of many immigrants, and resulting low wages, are the primary reasons so many live in poverty, use welfare programs, or lack insurance not their legal status or an unwillingness to work.

A central question for immigration policy is: Should we allow in so many people with little education, which increases job competition for the poorest American workers and the size of the population needing government assistance?

Immigrants make significant economic progress the longer they live in the United States, but even immigrants who have lived here for 15 years still have dramatically higher rates of poverty, lack of health insurance, and welfare use than natives.

Immigration accounts for virtually all of the national increase in public school enrollment over the last two decades. In 2005, there were 10.3 million school-age children from immigrant families in the United States.

Immigrants and natives exhibit similar rates of entrepreneurship, with 13 percent of natives and 11 percent of immigrants being self-employed.

Recent immigration has had no significant impact on the nations age structure. Without the 7.9 million post-2000 immigrants, the average age in America would be virtually unchanged at 36 years.

Data Source: The data for this study comes form the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey collected by the Census Bureau in March of this year. The Bureau has yet to publish the immigrant numbers. However, the raw data is available to interested researchers and that is how we were able to do this analysis.

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The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institute which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.