Top Ten U.S. Immigration Facts

Ian Hawes

Ian Hawes

September 8th, 2021

Time for some fun facts about immigration! There are some misconceptions out there about the true numbers and nature of what goes on with folks trying to enter the country.

Let’s take a look at some facts, figures, and a few anecdotes.

1. Most Are Legal

Despite the conventional wisdom that most immigrants are here to take American jobs illegally, 75% of immigrants arrived here through legal means. Of the 25% who are here illegally, 40% of them simply have expired visas.

2. Most Popular Immigrant State

When broken down by state, California has the highest number of immigrants at just under 10 million (2008 statistics). It also has the highest immigrant to total state population at 26.8% of the total state population.

3. State With The Fewest Immigrants

On the other hand, the state with the lowest immigrant population is West Virginia. In 2008, it was just over 23,000, at a total state population percentage of 1.3%.

4. Racial Make-Up

Not surprising, around half of the immigrants in the United States reported Latino origins. What is surprising is 25% of the immigrant population reported Asian origins. 17% marked “other.”

5. Education

Just over a quarter of immigrants aged 25 and up hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, although 32% don’t have a high school diploma. Comparably, US born adults in the same age range hold the same percentage of bachelor degrees, but just 11% lack a high school diploma.

6. Revenue

The US has a long tradition of its immigrants making good as entrepreneurs. The trend holds true today. Immigrant business creates $162 billion in tax revenue!

7. Border Enforcement

From 1986 to 1998, the Border Patrol increased their agents on the southwest border to about 8,500. Instead of lowering the undocumented immigrant population, it ended up doubling it! Experts believe this is due to insufficient legal avenues for immigrants to gain entry.

8. Paying Taxes

Another common argument against immigration is “they don’t pay taxes.” However, even undocumented immigrants pay some sort of taxes, especially income and sales taxes. Some studies have shown immigrants pay between $90 and $140 billion a year in federal, state and local taxes.

9. They Speak English

You’ll often hear people complaining about immigrants not “speaking our language.” But the US Census Bureau says another story – over 75% of immigrants speak English well within their first ten years of arrival.

10. Irony

One of the reasons for the Revolutionary War, cited in the Declaration of Independence, is the interference of free migration. The US had open borders from its inception until 1882. It makes one wonder what the Founding Fathers would think of us today!

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