Center for Immigration Studies, August 13, 2015
A new analysis of monthly Census Bureau data by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that the nation’s immigrant population (legal and illegal) hit a record high of 42.1 million in the second quarter of this year–an increase of 1.7 million since the same quarter of 2014. The population of immigrants from Mexico, after falling or growing little in recent years, seems to be growing again. Growth in the immigrant population in the last year was led by a 740,000 increase in the number of Mexican immigrants. The monthly Census Bureau data is released before other data. As more information becomes available, this trend should be confirmed.
“Illegal immigration came up in the presidential debates, but there has been little discussion of the level of immigration; this at a time when total immigration is surging according to the latest data,” said Steven Camarota, co-author of new report and the Center’s Director of Research. “The rapid growth in the immigrant population was foreseeable given the cutbacks in enforcement, our expansive legal immigration system, and the improvement in the economy. But the question remains, is it in the nation’s interest?”
View the entire report here.
Among the findings:
- The nation’s immigrant or foreign-born population, which includes legal and illegal immigrants, grew by 4.1 million from the second quarter of 2011 to the second quarter of 2015–1.7 million in just the last year.
- Immigrants are 13.3 percent of the nation’s total population–the largest share in 105 years.
- Growth in the last year was led by a rebound in the number of Mexican immigrants, which increased by 740,000 from 2014 to 2015–accounting for 44 percent of the increase in the total immigrant population in the last year.
- The total Mexican immigrant population (legal and illegal) reached 12.1 million in the second quarter of 2015–the highest quarterly total ever.
- Prior research has indicated that net migration (the number coming vs. the number leaving) from Mexico had fallen to zero; the recent growth indicates that the period of zero net migration from Mexico has ended.
- In addition to Mexico, growth in the immigrant population was led by a 449,000 increase in the last year from countries in Latin America other than Mexico.
- The Department of Homeland Security and other researchers have estimated that eight in 10 illegal immigrants are from Mexico and Latin America, so the increase in immigrants from these countries is an indication that illegal immigration has begun growing again.
- The number of immigrants in the United States is now enormous, but it must be recognized that most immigrants, including those from Latin America, are in the country legally. Absent a change in legal immigration policy, the immigrant population will continue to increase.