26 Undeniable Immigration Statistics You Need to Read

Immigration is a sensitive topic that most people try and tiptoe around. The term “immigrant” has unfortunately developed negative connotations, despite the fact that millions of legal immigrants enter the country every year. 

What’s more:

You also see plenty of facts and stats that get totally blown out of proportion!

So, how do you separate the truth from the lies? 

Well, our mind-blowing immigration statistics are a brilliant place to start! We’ve compiled some of the most intriguing and thought-provoking stats on this topic. Check them out, and you’ll learn a thing or two about the state of immigration in the US – and throughout the world as well – just as we did when we were compiling them.

Mind-boggling Immigration Stats (Editor’s Pick)

  • There were 44.4 million immigrants in the US in 2017.
  • 77% of immigrants are here legally.
  • 23% of immigrants are illegal immigrants.
  • 13.6% of the population in the US are immigrants.
  • Over 1 million immigrants enter the country each year.
  • Mexico has the highest percentage of immigrants in America.
  • 22,405 refugees entered the US in 2018.
  • 50% of refugees are children under the age of 18.
  • 282,242 people were deported from the US in 2019.
  • 3.4% of the global population are immigrants.

General Immigration Statistics

Let’s start by running through some of the more general US immigration statistics. This will include the facts and figures relating to the number of immigrants in the country and how things have changed over the years. 

So, how many immigrants are there in the US right now?

Let’s find out.

1. There were 44.4 million immigrants in the US in 2017.

(Pew Research Center)

The most recent statistics on immigration say that just under 45 million people in the United States are immigrants. Remember, an immigrant is defined as anybody who leaves their country of origin and moves somewhere else. 

So, don’t get confused and assume this refers to illegal immigrants! The majority of these immigrants are legal – and we’ll get onto that in just a moment. As far as the percentage of the population goes, well, it looks like this…

2. 13.6% of the population are immigrants.

(Pew Research Center)

Initially, seeing that 44.4 million immigrants live in the US sounds quite shocking. But in terms of percentages, it’s not that high at all. If you bear with us, you’ll find some immigration statistics by country that show many other places have a much higher percentage. 

Still, there’s no denying the fact that the immigrant population of the US has definitely increased since the introduction of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. 

3. There are four times as many immigrants now as in the 1960s.

(Pew Research Center)

That’s right, the total number of US immigrants has quadrupled since the 1960s. This is according to the most recent immigration numbers, but what does it mean?

Well, there’s been a steady increase since the introduction of the new Immigration Act in ‘65. Contrary to what you may believe, it’s not simply a case of illegal immigrants and refugees all flooding to the country by any means necessary. 

In fact, green card statistics suggest that in most cases, people took the chance to move to the US for job opportunities and a chance at following the American Dream! And to do that, immigrants need to be issued a green card.

4. 35.2 million immigrants in the US are lawful immigrants. 

(Pew Research Center)

Of the 44.4 million total immigrants in the country, 77% are here legally. When you dive into the statistical data, you find that the legal immigration statistics are split into different categories. This includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, and temporary residents. 

In essence, the main thing to take from this data is that the vast majority of US immigrants are here legally in some way, shape, or form. 

5. 20.7 million legal immigrants are naturalized citizens.

(Pew Research Center)

This works out as approximately 45% of lawful US immigrants. Therefore, the bulk of legal immigrants do have US citizenship. This means they’ve gone through the naturalization process established by the Immigration and Nationality Act. 

For all intents and purposes, they are Americans. It’s just that they technically retain their immigrant status because they’re also citizens of another country. 

6. 25% of legal immigrants are lawful permanent residents.

(Pew Research Center)

This amounts to 12.3 million out of the lawful immigrant population

What does it mean? 

Well, a lawful permanent resident means that someone legally lives in the country on a full-time basis. They work here, pay local taxes, and so on. The only thing missing is their official US citizenship. 

However, many of the lawful permanent residents do choose to become naturalized at a later date. 

7. 5% of legal immigrants are here on a temporary basis.

(Pew Research Center)

According to the latest US legal immigration statistics, this is around 2.2 million of the lawful population

Someone is classified in this category for many reasons. Typically, it refers to students that have come here to study or people who are working in the US for a specific period. They’ve got all the right visas and travel information, but they aren’t staying in the country permanently. 

8. Illegal immigration statistics claim 23% of immigrants are here unlawfully.

(Pew Research Center)

By our calculations, that makes a total of 10.5 million illegal immigrants in the United States – when these figures were collected. 

We have to point out that the official immigrant statistics only go up to 2017 at the moment. So, this number could have risen or decreased since then. 

An illegal immigrant is defined as anyone that enters the country by avoiding the legal process and without having all of the correct documents.

Immigration Statistics - passport

General Immigration Facts By Year

Time to narrow things down just a little bit. All of the previous stats have shown the number of immigrants in the US as a total. But what do the figures look like on a yearly basis? Well, read on to find out…

9. 1,127,167 immigrants entered the US in 2017.

(Department of Homeland Security)

According to the DHS immigration statistics, over 1 million immigrants enter the country every year

This is one of the largest immigration rates in the world, but it’s largely down to the sheer size of the country. If we looked at the population of the US in 2017, it sat at over 325 million. 

With the help of a calculator, this works out as 0.34% of the population. All of a sudden, this stat isn’t as alarming! 

10. Between 2016 and 2017, the immigrant population increased by 2%.

(Migration Policy Institute)

There was an overall increase in the US immigrant population by 787,000 in 2017 compared to the data from the year before. 

Now, hold on just a second. 

You might think this contradicts the previous stat that said over a million immigrants entered the country that year. So, how can the population increase by less than this? 

Well, it comes down to the number of immigrants that left the country during this period. Temporary residents may have left, some illegal immigrants may have got deported, etc. 

11. 168,980 immigrants came from Mexico. 

(Department of Homeland Security)

According to the United States immigration data, Mexicans made up over 168,000 of the immigrants entering the country in 2017

This should come as no surprise. Besides, it’s been known for a long time that many Mexicans see the land beyond the Rio Grande as a place to make more money and get a good start in life. 

12. 25% of immigrants entering the US each year are Mexicans.

(Migration Policy Institute)

The Mexican immigration statistics show that a quarter of all US immigrants are from Mexico. Again, this just backs up the point we made earlier on. 

Unfortunately, there’s currently no data that accurately shows the legal vs. illegal immigration statistics for people by country. So, we can’t say for sure how many Mexican immigrants are here lawfully. 

13. Indian and Chinese immigrants are joint second.

(Migration Policy Institute)

If we were to look at US immigration by country, then India and China are in joint-second place with 6% of the immigrant population each

The same data suggests that the Philippines are next with 5%, followed by El Salvador, Vietnam, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic with 3%. Lastly, South Korea and Guatemala round off the top 10 with 2% each. 

In the final analysis, the majority of US immigrants come from either Central America or Asia. 

14. 21% of US immigrants entered in 2010 or later.

(Migration Policy Institute)

By looking at the US immigration statistics by decade, we see that just under a quarter of the immigrant population entered the country after 2010

In comparison, 26% arrived in the decade before, and 22% the decade before that. 

Before 1990, 31% of all US immigrants moved to the country. If anything, this shows that the immigration rate is decreasing over each decade. 

15. Over 756,000 immigrants were naturalized in 2018.

(US Citizenship and Immigration Services)

While most of the immigration data only date back to 2017, we can look at some more recent naturalization statistics. In 2018, over 750,000 immigrants were naturalized and took up US citizenship.

Immigration Statistics - refugee

Refugee Immigration Statistics

Refugees are migrants that flee their own country to avoid some type of significant issue. Typically, this happens when countries are at war and the population wants to get safe. With that in mind, we’ve found some telling US refugee statistics that are well worth looking at: 

16. 22,405 refugees were admitted to the US in 2018.

(Department of Homeland Security)

This is another one of those immigration statistics that sounds insane on first viewing. Over 20,000 people are taken into the US with refugee status. But is this a typical figure, or is it any higher or lower than in previous years?

Let’s find out. 

17. In 2018, there was a 58% drop in refugees from 2017.

(Department of Homeland Security)

In 2017, there were 53,000 refugees let into the United States. So, the 2018 figures represent a shocking drop. 

Largely, this is down to President Trump’s strict policy on refugees and immigration. The concrete statistical data hasn’t been released just yet, but initial reports suggest that this year’s figures are even lower than those for 2018. 

18. In 2017, half the refugee population was below the age of 18.

(UN Refugee Agency)

Perhaps the most harrowing of all immigration statistics. 50% of refugees in the US are children.

This goes to show that kids are regularly fleeing their countries to try and avoid conflict and get the help they need. It also throws a bit of light on the potential impact of strict refugee capping policies. By limiting how many refugees enter the country, the government is effectively stopping loads of children from finding a safe home. 

Of course, things are more complex than that, so we won’t get into a political debate here! 

19. 35% of refugees in the US are from DR Congo.

(Department of Homeland Security)

In terms of immigration numbers, that’s 7,878 people. In second place, you have Burma with a 15% share of refugees in the US. Numbers-wise, that’s 3,555. 

Coming in at third place is Ukraine. 11.8% of refugees come from this European country. However, there’s much more to these stats than you might initially think. So, let’s break things down for you…

20. There has been a massive decrease in numbers for the top two places.

(Department of Homeland Security)

Both Burma and DR Congo saw dramatic decreases in refugee numbers since 2016. Back then, DR Congo saw 16,370 refugees entering the US to seek asylum. Burma had 12,347 people seeking refuge in the country. 

Percentage-wise, these USA asylum seekers statistics show that they still make up the top two places for US refugees. However, the numbers have decreased by well over half. 

When you look at the refugee statistics, this isn’t overly shocking. If refugee numbers are down by over 50% since 2017, it only makes sense that these numbers are also decreasing. 

But, things get a little interesting when we look at Ukraine. 

21. Ukranian refugees have increased by 3% since 2016.

(Department of Homeland Security)

In 2016, there were 2,543 Ukranian refugees in the US. This number rose to 2,635 in 2018.

What’s more, Ukraine is the only nation to see a rise in refugees entering the US in the same period. How does that work out? 

Well, the main reason could be down to the increasing tension in the country. Ukraine has fallen on hard times since 2014 as a result of the conflict in the Donbass. There’s also a substantial Ukranian diaspora in North America, so it is seen as a good place to go and still hold onto some of your cultural heritage. 

Having said that, it’s still very surprising that this is the only country to see a rise in refugees entering the United States. Particularly when you consider the earlier stats that show refugees are declining rapidly.

Immigration Statistics - immigrants

Immigration Facts - US Deportation Statistics

Next on our journey through immigration stats, we have some deportation numbers to throw at you.

So, let’s see what the data has to say:

22. 282,242 people were deported from the US in 2019.

(Department of Homeland Security)

This stat is from June of this year, so the figure may have risen by now. Unfortunately, we can’t really compare this to how many immigrants entered the country this year. That’s because the immigration statistics 2019 haven’t been officially released yet.

We could find some rough estimates, but that’s all they’d be – estimates. We like to keep things factual and evidence-based, so we won’t bother with that. 

But, we can tell you how this number compares to the previous year! 

23. There has been an increase in deportations in the past year.

(Department of Homeland Security)

In the 2018 fiscal year, 250,000 deportations were made in America. This shows an increase of just over 30,000 deportations by June of this year. 

What can we take from this? 

Mainly, the number of deportations is rising! Is this that surprising? 

Well, not really. 

If you look at some of the data we’ve collected, you can see a growing trend in US immigration. The aim is to reduce the number of people entering the country – particularly illegally – and get rid of as many illegal immigrants as is conceivably possible. 

Therefore, it will be very interesting to see what the deportation numbers say at the end of the year. 

Immigration Stats from Around The World

On that note, we’ve concluded our stats about US immigration. You’ve seen the numbers, and you’ve looked at all the data. 

But how does this compare to the rest of the world?

Now, you might remember we mentioned some global statistics earlier on. Well, now we can reveal what immigration looks like overseas. 

24. There were 258 million immigrants around the world in 2017.

(UN)

Research from the United Nations determines that approximately 3.4% of the global population were immigrants in 2017

From a US perspective, this is quite curious. If you recall, 13.6% of the country is made up of immigrants. As such, you could conclude that the US has a way above average rate of immigration. 

It’s obviously not as simple as that, but how many of the world’s immigrants are in the United States? 

25. 5.8% of global immigrants are located in the US.

(UN)

Of course, this is due to the sheer number of people living in the country. If you have over 44 million immigrants, you’re bound to make up a fair chunk of global immigrants. It’s not really an indication of a problem in the US, but more of a note that the country offers so many opportunities that loads of people want to live there. 

In fact, if you look at some of the other countries, the US immigration rate of 13% doesn’t seem that high at all…

26. The UAE has the highest percentage of immigrants in the world.

(UN)

83.7% of the UAE is made up of immigrants. Now, by comparison, the US percentage is ridiculously low! 

Do you see what we’re getting at? Immigration stats can be very hard to track and compare because of how different they can be. Do you worry about the number of people entering the country, or do you look at the percentage compared to the rest of the population?!

The intriguing thing about the UAE is that this percentage is mainly down to the considerable developments in this part of the world. You have places like Dubai that have sprung up over the last few decades and transformed into luxury areas to live. So, it stands to reason that people are flocking there to work and make a lot of money.

The Lowdown On Immigration

Aaaand breathe. 

That’s it, you’ve reached the end of our detailed look at immigration statistics. We hope you’ve taken a lot away from this. 

The key takeaways are: 

Over a million immigrants enter the US every year. The majority of total immigrants in the country are all here legally, with most of them accepting nationalized status. The number of refugees is decreasing, while the amount of deportations is rising. 

It’s always important to get the facts straight, as there is a lot of misleading information on immigration out there! 

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