Immigration in the United States

Between 1820 and 2000, the US has admitted almost twice as many immigrants and refugees as all other countries combined.


However, the number of legal immigrants has varied during different periods because of changes in immigration laws and rates of economic growth.


Graphic: Legal immigration to the US, 1820-2000.


In 2000, the US received about 850,000 legal immigrants and refugees, and 300,000 illegal immigrants, together accounting for 40% of the country's population growth.


The US Census Bureau estimates 8-11 million illegal immigrants currently live in the US.


Currently, more than 75% of all legal immigrants live in six states:

If illegal immigrants are included, this figure rises to 90%.


Immigrants place a tax burden on residents of such states.


In California, for example, the average household pays an extra $1,200 in taxes per year because of immigrants.


However, according to a 1997 study by the National Academy of Sciences,



Between 1820 and 1960, most legal immigrants to the US came from Europe; since then most have come from Latin America (53%) and Asia (30%).


Between 2002 and 2050, the percentage of Latinos in the US population is projected to double from 13% to 24%.


In 1995, the US Commission on Immigration Reform recommended reducing the number of legal immigrants and refugees to about 700,000 per year for a transition period and then to 550,000 per year.


Some population geographers, demographers and environmentalists go further and call for



They would accept immigrants only if they can support themselves, arguing that providing immigrants with public services turns the US into a magnet for the world's poor.


Most of these analysts also support efforts to sharply reduce illegal immigration.


However, some are concerned that a crackdown on illegal immigrants can also lead to discrimination against legal immigrants.



The public strongly supports reducing US immigration levels.


Proponents argue that reducing immigration would allow the US to stabilize its population sooner and help reduce the country's enormous environmental impact.


Others oppose reducing current levels of legal immigration, arguing that