What’s the situation of immigrants and immigration in the US?

What’s the situation of immigrants and immigration in the US? What has been so far the role of the US in the current migration due to the war in Syria? Federica Toscano answers to these questions.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, the US immigrant population in 2014 (most complete data available) stood at more than 42.4 million, or 13.3 percent, of the total US population of 318.9 million. Between 2013 and 2014, the foreign-born population increased by 1 million, or 2.5 percent. In total, immigrants in the United States and their US-born children numbered approximately 81 million people, or 26 percent of the overall US population.

In 2014, 1.3 million foreign-born individuals moved to the United States, an 11 percent increase from 1.2 million in 2013. India was the leading country of origin for new immigrants, with 147,500 arriving in 2014, followed by China with 131,800, Mexico with 130,000, Canada with 41,200, and the Philippines with 40,500. Approximately 51 percent of immigrants were female.

Overall, the immigrant population in 2014 was older than the US-born population: The median age of immigrants was 43.5 years, compared to 35.9 years for the native born. Approximately 79 percent (235.9 million) of the US population* ages 5 and older reported speaking only English at home. The remaining 21 percent (63.2 million) reported speaking a language other than English at home. Spanish was by far the most common language within this category (62 percent), followed by Chinese.

It is also interesting to note that 29 percent (10.5 million) of the 36.7 million immigrants ages 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 30 percent of native-born adults. In 2014, the top five US states by number of immigrants were California (10.5 million), Texas and New York (4.5 million each), Florida (4 million), and New Jersey (2 million).

What has been so far the role of the US in the current migration due to the war in Syria?

There are 4.8 million Syrians registered as refugees with the United Nations, and since March 2011, the US has taken in around 3,000 of them. In 2015 Obama decided the US should take in 10,000 refugees between October 2015 and October 2016. Secretary of State John Kerry announced in September 2015 that the US plans to accept 100,000 refugees from around the world annually by 2017, up from 85,000 in 2016. However, until March 2016 the US had only resettled 3000 refugees, says Politico.

In US, resettlement is perceived as a controversial topic, among public and politicians. The Congress passed a bill in November aimed at implementing stricter regulations for the admission of refugees from Syria and Iraq; the Senate blocked the bill. Among the most debated parts of the bill, state and local governments will be empowered to bar refugees from being resettled in their territory, require additional levels of security screening, and also mandate that refugees who are admitted to the United States continue to be vetted for security reasons until they adjust their legal status to permanent residents. Each refugee’s publicly available Internet postings, including on social media sites, would be screened by US officials.

Federica Toscano

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