Immigrants in the United States, 2007: A Profile of America’s Foreign-Born Population

Source: Center for Immigration Studies

This Backgrounder provides a detailed picture of the number and socio-economic status of the nation’s immigrant or foreign-born population, both legal and illegal. The data was collected by the Census Bureau in March 2007.

Among the report’s findings:
• The nation’s immigrant population (legal and illegal) reached a record of 37.9 million in 2007.
• Immigrants account for one in eight U.S. residents, the highest level in 80 years. In 1970 it was one in 21; in 1980 it was one in 16; and in 1990 it was one in 13.
• Overall, nearly one in three immigrants is an illegal alien. Half of Mexican and Central American immigrants and one-third of South American immigrants are illegal.
• Since 2000, 10.3 million immigrants have arrived — the highest seven-year period of immigration in U.S. history. More than half of post-2000 arrivals (5.6 million) are estimated to be illegal aliens.
• The largest increases in immigrants were in California, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Arizona, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
• Of adult immigrants, 31 percent have not completed high school, compared to 8 percent of natives. Since 2000, immigration increased the number of workers without a high school diploma by 14 percent, and all other workers by 3 percent.
• The share of immigrants and natives who are college graduates is about the same. Immigrants were once much more likely than natives to be college graduates.
• The proportion of immigrant-headed households using at least one major welfare program is 33 percent, compared to 19 percent for native households.
• The poverty rate for immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) is 17 percent, nearly 50 percent higher than the rate for natives and their children.
• 34 percent of immigrants lack health insurance, compared to 13 percent of natives. Immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 71 percent of the increase in the uninsured since 1989.
• Immigrants make significant progress over time. But even those who have been here for 20 years are more likely to be in poverty, lack insurance, or use welfare than are natives.
• The primary reason for the high rates of immigrant poverty, lack of health insurance, and welfare use is their low education levels, not their legal status or an unwillingness to work.
• Of immigrant households, 82 percent have at least one worker compared to 73 percent of native households.
• There is a worker present in 78 percent of immigrant households using at least one welfare program.
• Immigration accounts for virtually all of the national increase in public school enrollment over the last two decades. In 2007, there were 10.8 million school-age children from immigrant families in the United States.
• Immigrants and natives have similar rates of entrepreneurship — 13 percent of natives and 11 percent of immigrants are self-employed.
• Recent immigration has had no significant impact on the nation’s age structure. Without the 10.3 million post-2000 immigrants, the average age in America would be virtually unchanged at 36.5 years.

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