Study: Record Numbers of Immigrants Are on Their Way to U.S.
On Monday, the research group released data showing that the percentage of foreign-born residents in the United States is projected to reach a 125-year high in 2025. Right now, 13.7% of people living in the country were born outside its borders, and that number is expected to hit a record 14.9% in the next decade. Not since 1890, when waves of Irish, Italian, Polish, and other European immigrants flocked to the states, have so many residents been foreign born.
In the 21st century, Hispanic migrants have driven a new surge in U.S. immigration, with undocumented Latino immigrants becoming a major focus of the 2016 presidential election. But despite the focus on Hispanic immigrants, the Pew study also finds that Asians will in fact become the largest group of immigrants by 2065.
And with Hispanic and Asian immigration combined, the overall U.S. population is expected to see sharp growth in the coming decades. In 50 years, 18% of the country’s 441 million residents could well be foreign born, far surpassing the previous 1890 record. For some historical perspective, just 5% of the U.S. population was foreign born in 1965.
Already, presidential hopefuls like Donald Trump have been calling for fundamental changes to federal immigration law. In 2012, during the last election, there were an estimated 4.7 million undocumented immigrants with children, millions of whom were U.S. citizens. Because of this phenomenon, Trump has called not only for an end to the constitutionally protected practice of birthright citizenship, but for all undocumented immigrants to be rounded up and forcibly expelled from the country.
Anti-immigration sentiment is nothing new in American politics. In fact, during the immigration surge of the 1890s, many politicians called for the country to shut its borders.
“This has been our point all along: If you want to have a good situation for immigrants, there’s a threshold that you’ve got to keep it below,” says Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA. “We know what happened last time. It was a very difficult time. And it’s not just about the American-born being hostile toward the foreign-born, but the inability of the foreign-born to get ahead, to live the American Dream.”
Of course, not all Americans agree with that sentiment. And in 2016, both sides will play that battle out at the ballot box.