Our society is becoming more culturally complex and multilingual.

Much of this is attributable to immigration, which is expected to account for 88 percent of U.S. population growth through 2065. Half of immigrants currently living in the U.S. are proficient in English, while less than 20 percent speak English at home. This makes for an eclectic linguistic landscape.

To provide a snapshot of the present and expected future of U.S. immigration, we turn to the Pew Research Center, which has assembled these critical data points:

How many people in the U.S. are immigrants?

Immigrants today account for 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, which is nearly three times the share (4.7 percent) in 1970. The U.S. foreign-born population reached a record 44.4 million in 2017.  

Where do immigrants living in the U.S. come from?

Mexico accounts for 25 percent of all immigrants living in the U.S., accounting for 11.2 million individuals. Next on the list were China (6 percent), India (6 percent), the Philippines (5 percent), and El Salvador (3 percent).

Where do most U.S. immigrants live?

Almost half (45 percent) of the country’s 44.4 million immigrants live in just three states: California (24 percent), Texas (11 percent), and New York (10 percent). In 2017, the majority of immigrants lived in just 20 major metropolitan areas, with the largest in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. The top 20 metro areas were home to 64 percent of the nation’s total immigrant population.

Has the landscape shifted in terms of where immigrants are arriving from today?

In 2017, India was the top country of origin for immigrants coming to the U.S. (126,000 people), followed by Mexico (124,000), China (121,000), and Cuba (41,000). By race and ethnicity, more Asian immigrants have arrived in the U.S. in most years since 2010. Latin American immigration reduced following the Great Recession in 2008, especially from Mexico, which has seen net decreases in immigration to the U.S. over the past few years.

Looking ahead, which immigrant group will be the largest in the U.S.?

Asians are expected to become the largest immigration group in the U.S. by 2055, surpassing Hispanics. The Pew Research Center estimates that in 2065, Asians will make up 38 percent of all immigrants, followed by Hispanics at 31 percent.

Is the rate at which immigrants are coming to the U.S. accelerating?

New immigrant arrivals to the U.S. have fallen, which is mostly attributable to a decrease in the number of unauthorized immigrants coming to the country.

What is the legal status of immigrants in the U.S.?

More than three quarters (76 percent) of immigrants are in the country legally, according to new Pew Research Center estimates. In 2016, 45 percent were naturalized U.S. citizens.

Is the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. increasing or decreasing?

Twenty-four percent of immigrants living in the U.S. are unauthorized. In 2016, there were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., accounting for 3.3 percent of the nation’s population. The number of unauthorized immigrants fell to its lowest level in more than a decade, according to Pew Research estimates based on 2016 data. The decline was due almost entirely to a sharp decrease in the number of Mexican residents entering the country without authorization. Central America is the only region from which illegal immigration is growing.

How much of America’s future population growth will be attributed to immigration?

Immigrants and their descendants are projected to account for 88 percent of U.S. population growth through 2065. U.S. births to immigrant parents will also be important to future growth in the country’s population. In 2017, the percentage of women giving birth in the past year was higher among immigrants (7.5 percent) than among the U.S. born (5.8 percent).

How well do most immigrants speak English?

Among immigrants 5 and older, half (52 percent) are proficient English speakers. Slightly more than one third (36 percent) speak English very well, while 16 percent only speak English at home. Around 43 percent of immigrants in the U.S. speak Spanish at home. Other than Spanish and English, the top languages spoken at home among immigrants are Chinese (6 percent), Hindi (5 percent), Filipino/Tagalog (4 percent) and French (3 percent).

LanguageLine Can Help

Assisting every individual – regardless of language, culture, or physical ability – is the right thing to do. Language access provides better experiences for limited-English speakers, as well as the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

We believe that being understood is empowering. For nearly four decades, LanguageLine has worked with healthcare organizations, government agencies, and businesses to overcome language and cultural hurdles. Please contact us so that we can learn more about you and the particular challenge you are facing.

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