The importance of immigrants in the United States

According to a recent release by the Immigrant Policy Center, immigrants and children of immigrants make up nearly one-quarter of the U.S. population.  Their full report is available at American Roots in the Immigrant Experience (IPC Fact Check, October 19, 2009).   The U.S. Census Bureau recently released data on immigrant and Latino population of the United States, demonstrating that the immigrant experience is vitally important to the U.S.  social and political fabric:

  • Nearly one out of every four people in the United States in 2008 was either an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.
  • Immigrants who are naturalized U.S. citizens (and entitled to vote) accounted for 5 percent of the total U.S. population in 2008.
  • Two-in-five immigrants came to this country before 1990 and therefore have deep U.S. roots.  More than one-third of Latino immigrants came to the United States before 1990.

According to the IPC, these figures have major political significance.  Latinos comprise the fastest-growing group of voters in the United States. The number of naturalized U.S. citizens is increasing rapidly.  In addition, “New American” voters with a direct, personal connection to the immigrant experience (namely, naturalized citizens and the U.S.-born children of immigrants) is on the rise.  Because of the increasing importance of immigrants and their families in elections, politicians should pay close attention to these demographic trends.


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