Legal US immigration rebounds somewhat after plunging with COVID pandemic

Useful analysis by Pew:

The number of immigrants receiving green cards as new lawful U.S. permanent residents bounced back last year to pre-pandemic levels after plunging during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of recently available government data. Green cards issued to immigrants already in the United States seeking to adjust their temporary status rebounded above pre-pandemic levels, while the number of green cards for new arrivals also grew but did not reach earlier totals.

About 282,000 people received green cards in July-September 2021, the final quarter of the fiscal year, according to quarterly admissions data from the federal Office of Immigration Statistics. That number was higher than in any quarter since April-June 2017, and slightly higher than the quarterly average for the period from October 2015 to March 2020. During the pandemic, new green card issuances fell to a quarterly low of 79,000 in mid-2020.

Arrivals of foreign tourists, business visitors, guest workers, foreign students and other temporary lawful migrants also rebounded somewhat, according to data for the final quarter of fiscal 2021, which ended Sept. 30. For the most part, however, arrivals of these lawful temporary migrants are still well below their pre-pandemic averages.

How we did this

Beginning in early 2020, the coronavirus pandemic had a big impact on migration worldwide. The U.S. closed land borders with Canada and Mexico to nonessential travel through late 2021, and air travel between countries also was severely restricted. Three-quarters of U.S. consulates globally, which issue visas, remained closed through June 2021. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which processes applications for immigrants already in the U.S., suspended in-person interviews as well as other services during the height of the pandemic. Other countries – both sources of immigrants and transit corridors for them – closed their borders early on in the pandemic, bringing international migration nearly to a halt.

Fewer green cards issued

A line graph showing that green card totals for legal U.S. immigrants have rebounded to  pre-pandemic levels

During the pandemic, green card issuances for newly arriving immigrants dropped more sharply than issuances for immigrants already in the United States on temporary visas. Issuances for newly arriving immigrants also have not recovered as much ground as issuances for immigrants already in the U.S. when compared with pre-pandemic levels.

At the low point for visa and legal permanent status issuances at the start of the pandemic – the April-June 2020 period that was the third quarter of the fiscal year – roughly 19,000 green cards were issued to new arrivals to the U.S., compared with an average of about 134,000 each quarter for the period from October 2015 to March 2020. In the last quarter of fiscal 2021, in June to September of that year, about 105,000 green cards were issued to immigrants newly arriving in the U.S., or about 78% of the pre-pandemic quarterly average.

The number of green cards granted to immigrants already in the U.S. on temporary visas, called an “adjustment of status,” did not fall as steeply. During the 2020 pandemic low point for lawful immigration, about 60,000 green cards were issued to immigrants adjusting their status, compared with a quarterly average of 141,000 for fiscal 2016 onward. By the final quarter of fiscal 2021, roughly 177,000 green cards were issued for adjustments of status, more than in any quarter recorded since at least fiscal 2016.

Legal admission of temporary migrants partially rebounds

Arrivals of legally admitted temporary migrants, which averaged 19.6 million per quarter from fiscal 2016 through March 2020, dove to about 600,000 during April-June 2020, the third quarter of the fiscal year. That was only 3% of the pre-pandemic average.

A line graph showing that tourist arrivals to the U.S. have not recovered from a pandemic-era drop

About 80% of these arrivals before the pandemic were tourists, and most of the rest were business travelers, temporary workers and their families, and students.

While the numbers have gone up from the low point in April-June 2020, the number of arrivals of tourists and business travelers are still well below pre-pandemic levels. However, the number of arrivals for temporary worker and student visas have risen closer to average levels in comparable quarters for October 2016-March 2020 than have the number of arrivals by business or tourist visas.

Hardest hit by the border closures were arrivals of tourists, which dropped to only 1% of earlier levels in April-June 2020 – about 185,000 arrivals, compared with a quarterly average of 15.6 million for the period beginning October 2015. These arrivals have since risen considerably, but the latest data (from July to September 2021) shows that quarterly tourism has reached only 22% of the average level of the period from late 2015 until the pandemic hit in March 2020.

A line graph showing that U.S. arrivals of temporary migrants, especially business travelers, are below pre-pandemic levels

The number of foreign visitors attending conferences or otherwise traveling on business also declined dramatically, to only 6% of pre-pandemic levels. Even with sizable increases since then, business visitor visas only reached 21% of pre-pandemic levels, roughly 461,000, in the final quarter of fiscal 2021.

In April-June 2020, only about 11,000 foreign students arrived in the United States, representing 4% of average arrivals during similar quarters since 2016. The numbers increased substantially but remained well below pre-pandemic levels until the fourth quarter of 2021, when about 501,000 foreign students arrived in the U.S., reaching two-thirds (67%) of the average number of fourth-quarter arrivals prior to the pandemic’s start.

Arrivals of temporary workers and their families dropped somewhat less during the pandemic than those of others with temporary status. The roughly 226,000 arrivals of temporary workers in April-June 2020 represented 23% of average quarterly arrivals from October 2015 to March 2020. By July-September 2021, arrivals of temporary workers had more than doubled from the 2020 low, to about 542,000, but still remained at only slightly above half the pre-pandemic level (54%).

The somewhat smaller drop in temporary workers was in large part a function of the continued arrival of agricultural workers (issued H-2A visas) to cross the border to pick crops. In a Federal Register notice, the Department of Homeland Security deemed these jobs “critical to the U.S. public health and safety and economy.” About 100,000 H-2A workers were admitted in April-June 2020, only 4,000 fewer than were admitted in the same quarter the year before and 12% more than the average number admitted for the third quarters of 2016-2019. Excluding H-2A visa arrivals, the number of arrivals of temporary workers during April-June 2020 fell to 14% of pre-pandemic averages.

Source: Legal US immigration rebounds somewhat after plunging with COVID pandemic

Pew: The Changing Political Geography of COVID-19 Over the Last Two Years

Interesting trends regarding how COVID has progressed in different counties with the general correlation between higher COVID rates and support for Trump:

Over the past two years, the official count of coronavirus deaths in the United States has risen and is now approaching 1 million lives. Large majorities of Americans say they personally know someone who has been hospitalized or died of the coronavirus, and it has impacted – in varying degrees – nearly every aspect of life.

Chart shows two years of coronavirus deaths in the United States

A new Pew Research Center analysis of official reports of COVID-19-related deaths across the country, based on mortality data collected by The New York Times, shows how the dynamics of the pandemic have shifted over the past two years.

A timeline of the shifting geography of the pandemic

The pandemic has rolled across the U.S. unevenly and in waves. Today, the death toll of the pandemic looks very different from how it looked in the early part of 2020. The first wave (roughly the first 125,000 deaths from March 2020 through June 2020) was largely geographically concentrated in the Northeast and in particular the New York City region. During the summer of 2020, the largest share of the roughly 80,000 deaths that occurred during the pandemic’s second wave were in the southern parts of the country.

The fall and winter months of 2020 and early 2021 were the deadliest of the pandemic to date. More than 370,000 Americans died of COVID-19 between October 2020 and April 2021; the geographic distinctions that characterized the earlier waves became much less pronounced.

Chart shows COVID-19 initially ravaged the most densely populated parts of the U.S., but that pattern has changed substantially over the past two years

By the spring and summer of 2021, the nationwide death rate had slowed significantly, and vaccines were widely available to all adults who wanted them. But starting at the end of the summer, the fourth and fifth waves (marked by new variants of the virus, delta and then omicron) came in quick succession and claimed more than 300,000 lives.

In many cases, the characteristics of communities that were associated with higher death rates at the beginning of the pandemic are now associated with lower death rates (and vice versa). Early in the pandemic, urban areas were disproportionately impacted. During the first wave, the coronavirus death rate in the 10% of the country that lives in the most densely populated counties was more than nine times that of the death rate among the 10% of the population living in the least densely populated counties. In each subsequent wave, however, the nation’s least dense counties have registered higher death rates than the most densely populated places.

Despite the staggering death toll in densely populated urban areas during the first months of the pandemic (an average 36 monthly deaths per 100,000 residents), the overall death rate over the course of the pandemic is slightly higher in the least populated parts of the country (an average monthly 15 deaths per 100,000 among the 10% living in the least densely populated counties vs. 13 per 100,000 among the 10% in the most densely populated counties).

Chart shows initially, deaths from COVID-19 were concentrated in Democratic-leaning areas; the highest overall death toll is now in the 20% of the country that is most GOP-leaning

As the relationship between population density and coronavirus death rates has changed over the course of the pandemic, so too has the relationship between counties’ voting patterns and their death rates from COVID-19.

In the spring of 2020, the areas recording the greatest numbers of deaths were much more likely to vote Democratic than Republican. But by the third wave of the pandemic, which began in fall 2020, the pattern had reversed: Counties that voted for Donald Trump over Joe Biden were suffering substantially more deaths from the coronavirus pandemic than those that voted for Biden over Trump. This reversal is likely a result of several factors including differences in mitigation efforts and vaccine uptake, demographic differences, and other differences that are correlated with partisanship at the county level.

Chart shows in early phase of pandemic, far more COVID-19 deaths in counties that Biden would go on to win; since then, there have been many more deaths in pro-Trump counties

During this third wave – which continued into early 2021 – the coronavirus death rate among the 20% of Americans living in counties that supported Trump by the highest margins in 2020 was about 170% of the death rate among the one-in-five Americans living in counties that supported Biden by the largest margins.

As vaccines became more widely available, this discrepancy between “blue” and “red” counties became even larger as the virulent delta strain of the pandemic spread across the country during the summer and fall of 2021, even as the totalnumber of deaths fell somewhat from its third wave peak.

During the fourth wave of the pandemic, death rates in the most pro-Trump counties were about four times what they were in the most pro-Biden counties. When the highly transmissible omicron variant began to spread in the U.S. in late 2021, these differences narrowed substantially. However, death rates in the most pro-Trump counties were still about 180% of what they were in the most pro-Biden counties throughout late 2021 and early 2022.

The cumulative impact of these divergent death rates is a wide difference in total deaths from COVID-19 between the most pro-Trump and most pro-Biden parts of the country. Since the pandemic began, counties representing the 20% of the population where Trump ran up his highest margins in 2020 have experienced nearly 70,000 more deaths from COVID-19 than have the counties representing the 20% of population where Biden performed best. Overall, the COVID-19 death rate in all counties Trump won in 2020 is substantially higher than it is in counties Biden won (as of the end of February 2022, 326 per 100,000 in Trump counties and 258 per 100,000 in Biden counties).

Partisan divide in COVID-19 deaths widened as more vaccines became available

Partisan differences in COVID-19 death rates expanded dramatically after the availability of vaccines increased. Unvaccinated people are at far higher risk of death and hospitalization from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and vaccination decisions are strongly associated with partisanship. Among the large majority of counties for which reliable vaccination data exists, counties that supported Trump at higher margins have substantially lower vaccination rates than those that supported Biden at higher margins.

Counties with lower rates of vaccination registered substantially greater death rates during each wave in which vaccines were widely available.

Chart shows counties that Biden won in 2020 have higher vaccination rates than counties Trump won

During the fall of 2021 (roughly corresponding to the delta wave), about 10% of Americans lived in counties with adult vaccination rates lower than 40% as of July 2021. Death rates in these low-vaccination counties were about six times as high as death rates in counties where 70% or more of the adult population was vaccinated.

More Americans were vaccinated heading into the winter of 2021 and 2022 (roughly corresponding to the omicron wave), but nearly 10% of the country lived in areas where less than half of the adult population was vaccinated as of November 2021. Death rates in these low-vaccination counties were roughly twice what they were in counties that had 80% or more of their population vaccinated. (Note: The statistics here reflect the death rates in the county as a whole, not rates for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, though individual-level data finds that death rates among unvaccinated people are far higher than among vaccinated people.)

Source: The Changing Political Geography of COVID-19 Over the Last Two Years

One in 10 Black people living in the U.S. are immigrants, new study shows

By way of comparison, the percent of Blacks in Canada who are immigrants is 52 percent:

The demographics of America’s Black population are in the middle of a major shift, with 1 in 10 having been born outside the United States. That’s 4.6 million Americans, a figure that is projected to grow to 9.5 million by 2060, according to the findings of a Pew Research Center study published Thursday.

“When we talk about the nation’s Black population, we have to understand it is one that is changing and becoming even more diverse than it already was, and immigrants are a big part of that story and so the immigrant experience is a growing part of the experience of Black Americans today,” said Mark Lopez, Pew’s director of race and ethnicity research.

Black immigrants and their American-born children make up 21 percent of the nation’s Black population, with an increasing number of migrants coming from Africa, according to the report. Lopez said it’s a group that often is overlooked in discussions about immigration.

Source: One in 10 Black people living in the U.S. are immigrants, new study shows

Diversity and Division in Advanced Economies

Another informative survey by Pew. Canada tends to have lower perceptions of conflict than the median (as one would expect) except for urban/rural:

Wide majorities in most of the 17 advanced economies surveyed by Pew Research Center say having people of many different backgrounds improves their society. Outside of Japan and Greece, around six-in-ten or more hold this view, and in many places – including Singapore, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Taiwan – at least eight-in-ten describe where they live as benefiting from people of different ethnic groups, religions and races.

Chart showing increasing shares see diversity positively

Even in Japan and Greece, the share who think diversity makes their country better has increased by double digits since the question was last asked four years ago, and significant increases have also taken place in most other nations where trends are available.

Alongside this growing openness to diversity, however, is a recognition that societies may not be living up to these ideals: In fact, most people say racial or ethnic discrimination is a problem in their society. Half or more in almost every place surveyed describe discrimination as at least a somewhat serious problem – including around three-quarters or more who have this view in Italy, France, Sweden, the U.S. and Germany. And, in eight surveyed publics, at least half describe their society as one with conflicts between people of different racial or ethnic groups. The U.S. is the country with the largest share of the public saying there is racial or ethnic conflict.

Chart showing perceptions of conflict between groups much higher in South Korea and U.S., especially between those who support different political parties

Notably, however, in most societies racial and ethnic divisions are not seen as the most salient cleavage. Rather, in the majority of places surveyed, more people identify conflicts between people who support different political parties than conflicts between people with different ethnic or racial backgrounds. Political divisions are also seen as greater than the other two dimensions tested: between those with different religions and between urban and rural residents. (For more on the actual composition of each public surveyed on each of these dimensions, see Appendix A.)

In the U.S. and South Korea, 90% say there are at least strong conflicts between those who support different parties – including around half or more in each country who say these conflicts are very strong. In Taiwan, France and Italy, around two-thirds say the political conflicts in their society are strong. Still, in around half of the surveyed publics, fewer than 50% say the same.

Chart showing around half or more in several publics say people do not agree on basic facts

In some places, this acrimony has risen to the level that people think their fellow citizens no longer disagree simply over policies, but also over basic facts. In France, the U.S., Italy, Spain and Belgium, half or more think that most people in their country disagree on basic facts more than they agree. Across most societies surveyed, those who see conflict among partisans are more likely to say people disagree on the basic facts than those who do not see such conflicts.

Views on the topic are also closely related to views of the governing party or parties in nearly every society (for more on how governing party is defined, see Appendix B). In every place but the U.S. and Italy, those with unfavorable views of the governing coalition are more likely to say most people disagree on the basic facts than those with favorable views of the government.

Chart showing views of COVID-19’s effect on unity factor into views of political conflict

Although divisions between racial and ethnic groups as well as between partisans are palpable for many, other types of conflicts are less commonly perceived. For example, in no place surveyed does a majority think there are strong conflicts between people who live in cities and people who live in rural areas. Similarly, only a minority in most countries say there are divisions between people who practice different religions – though around half or more do sense such conflicts in South Korea, France and the U.S.

Beyond divisions between specific groups, there is also a widespread – and growing – sense that societies are more divided now than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. A median of 61% across the 17 advanced economies say they are now more divided than before the outbreak, and in all but one of the 13 countries also polled in summer 2020, the sense that societies are more divided than united has risen significantly since last year. Those who describe their society as more divided than before the global health emergency are also significantly more likely to see conflicts between different groups in society and to say their fellow citizens disagree over basic facts.

Source: Diversity and Division in Advanced Economies

Pew Research: Views of Muslims in the US, 20 years after 9/11

Of interest:

An unprecedented amount of public attention focused on Muslim Americans in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The U.S. Muslim population has grown in the two decades since, but it is still the case that many Americans know little about Islam or Muslims, and views toward Muslims have become increasingly polarized along political lines.

There were about 2.35 million Muslim adults and children living in the United States in 2007 – accounting for 0.8% of the U.S. population – when Pew Research Center began measuring this group’s size, demographic characteristics and views. Since then, growth has been driven primarily by two factors: the continued flow of Muslim immigrants into the U.S., and Muslims’ tendency to have more children than Americans of other faiths.

In 2015, the Center projected that Muslims could number 3.85 million in the U.S. by 2020 – roughly 1.1% of the total population. However, Muslim population growth from immigration may have slowed recently due to changes in federal immigration policy.

The number of Muslim houses of worship in the U.S. also has increased over the last 20 years. A study conducted in 2000 by the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership identified 1,209 mosques in the U.S. that year. Their follow-up study in 2011 found that the number of mosques had grown to 2,106, and the 2020 version found 2,769 mosques – more than double the number from two decades earlier.

How we did this

Alongside their population growth, Muslims have gained a larger presence in the public sphere. For example, in 2007, the 110th Congress included the first Muslim member, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. Later in that term, Congress seated a second Muslim representative, Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind. The current 117th Congress has two more Muslims alongside Carson, the first Muslim women to hold such office: Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., first elected in 2018.

As their numbers have increased, Muslims have also reported encountering more discrimination. In 2017, during the first few months of the Trump administration, about half of Muslim American adults (48%) said they had personally experienced some form of discrimination because of their religion in the previous year. This included a range of experiences, from people acting suspicious of them to being physically threatened or attacked. In 2011, by comparison, 43% of Muslim adults said they had at least one of these experiences, and 40% said this in 2007.

A bar chart showing that Americans are more likely to say Muslims face discrimination than to say this about other religions

In a March 2021 survey, U.S. adults were asked how much discrimination they think a number of religious groups face in society. Americans were more likely to say they believe Muslims face “a lot” of discrimination than to say the same about the other religious groups included in the survey, including Jews and evangelical Christians. A similar pattern appeared in previous surveys going back to 2009, when Americans were more likely to say that there was a lot of discrimination against Muslims than to say the same about Jews, evangelical Christians, Mormons or atheists.

A series of Pew Research Center surveys conducted in 2014, 2017, and 2019 separately asked Americans to rate religious groups on a scale ranging from 0 to 100, with 0 representing the coldest, most negative possible view and 100 representing the warmest, most positive view. In these surveys, Muslims were consistently ranked among the coolest, along with atheists.

Over the last 20 years, the American public has been divided on whether Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence, and a notable partisan divide on this question has emerged. When the Center first asked this question on a telephone survey in 2002, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents were only moderately more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say that Islam encourages violence more than other religions – and this was a minority viewpoint in both partisan groups. Within a few years, however, Republicans began to grow more likely to believe that Islam encourages violence. Democrats, in contrast, have become more likely to say Islam does not encourage violence. Now, Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say they believe Islam encourages violence more than other religions.

Though many Americans have negative views toward Muslims and Islam, 53% say they don’t personally know anyone who is Muslim, and a similar share (52%) say they know “not much” or “nothing at all” about Islam. Americans who are not Muslim and who personally know someone who is Muslim are more likely to have a positive view of Muslims, and they are less likely to believe that Islam encourages violence more than other religions.

Source: Views of Muslims in the US, 20 years after 9/11

Key facts about the changing U.S. unauthorized immigrant population

Useful information and context:

Border Patrol apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border are on the rise again. Although the majority of people attempting to enter the United States illegally are stopped, this trend could foreshadow an increase in the U.S. unauthorized immigrant population after years of relative stability. Yet the activity at the southwestern U.S. border is only one part of the overall story of unauthorized immigration, as a growing share of this population came from regions other than Mexico or Central America and entered the U.S. legally but overstayed their visas.

The unauthorized immigrant population is always changing and churning. The total number in the country can remain stable or decline even as new immigrants enter illegally or overstay a visa, because some voluntarily leave the country, are deported, die or become lawful residents. In short, the dynamic nature and pace of migration patterns has resulted in an unauthorized immigrant population whose size and composition has ebbed and flowed significantly over the past 30 years.

Here are key facts about this population and its dynamics.

How we did this
Number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. has declined since 2007

The U.S. unauthorized immigrant population rose rapidly from 1990 to 2007 before declining sharply for two years and stabilizing at 10.5 million in 2017.Pew Research Center’s most recent estimate is well below a peak of 12.2 million in 2007, but roughly triple the estimated 3.5 million in 1990. The estimate includes 1.5 million or more people who have temporary permission to stay in the U.S. through programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), as well as people awaiting decisions on their asylum applications; most could be subject to deportation if government policy changed.

U.S. unauthorized immigrant populations declined or held steady for most regions of birth since 2007

Mexican unauthorized immigrants are no longer the majority of those living illegally in the U.S. As of 2017, 4.9 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. were born in Mexico, while 5.5 million were from other countries, the first time since at least 1990 that those from Mexico (47% in 2017) were not a majority of the total. In 2007, an estimated 6.9 million unauthorized immigrants were Mexican, and 5.3 million were born in other countries. The population of Mexican-born unauthorized immigrants declined after 2007 because the number of newly arrived unauthorized immigrants from Mexico fell dramatically – and as a result, more left the U.S. than arrived.

The number of unauthorized immigrants from nations other than Mexico ticked up between 2007 and 2017, from 5.3 million to 5.5 million. The population of unauthorized immigrants born in Central America and Asia increased during this time, while birth regions of South America and Europe saw declines. There was not a statistically significant change among other large regions, including the Caribbean, Middle East-North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

A rising share of U.S. unauthorized immigrants apparently arrived in the country legally but overstayed their visas. Nearly all people apprehended while attempting to enter the country illegally at the U.S.-Mexico border are from either Mexico or Central America. This stands in contrast to the origins of visa overstays.

In recent years, immigrants from countries outside of Mexico and Central America accounted for almost 90% of overstays, and in 2017, there were more than 30 overstays for every border apprehension for these countries. Although the Census Bureau data Pew Research Center uses to estimate the size of the unauthorized immigrant population does not indicate directly whether someone arrived with legal status, the origin countries of immigrants in these sources provide indirect evidence. From 2007 to 2017, the share of newly arrived unauthorized immigrants (those in the U.S. five years or less) from regions other than Central America and Mexico – the vast majority of whom are overstays – increased from 37% to 63%. At the same time, the share of new unauthorized immigrants from Mexico fell from 52% to 20%.

Short-term residents decline and long-term residents rise as share of U.S. unauthorized immigrants

The decline in the arrival of new unauthorized immigrants in recent years has resulted in a population that is increasingly settled in the U.S. About two-thirds of unauthorized immigrants (66%) had lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years as of 2017, up from 41% 10 years earlier. Conversely, newly arrived unauthorized immigrants (those in the U.S. five years or less) accounted for 20% of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2017 versus 30% in 2007. For Mexicans, the pattern is even more pronounced. The vast majority (83%) of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico have been in the country more than 10 years, while only 8% have lived in the U.S. for five years or less.

Source: Key facts about the changing U.S. unauthorized immigrant population

How Hispanics see themselves varies by number of generations in US

Interesting how identity changes over generations, not atypical for many with immigrant ancestry:

The terms Hispanics in the United States use to describe themselves can provide a direct look at how they view their identity and how the strength of immigrant ties influences the ways they see themselves. About half of Hispanic adults say they most often describe themselves by their family’s country of origin or heritage, using terms such as Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican or Salvadoran, while another 39% most often describe themselves as “Hispanic” or “Latino,” the pan-ethnic terms used most often to describe this group in the U.S.

The terms Latinos use to describe their identity differ across immigrant generations

Meanwhile, 14% say they most often call themselves American, according to a national Pew Research Center survey of Hispanic adults conducted in December 2019.

The use of these terms varies across immigrant generations and reflects their diverse experiences. More than half (56%) of foreign-born Latinos most often use the name of their origin country to describe themselves, a share that falls to 39% among the U.S.-born adult children of immigrant parents (i.e., the second generation) and 33% among third- or higher-generation Latinos.

How we did this

Meanwhile, the share who say they most often use the term “American” to describe themselves rises from 4% among immigrant Latinos to 22% among the second generation and 33% among third- or higher-generation Latinos. (Only 3% of Hispanic adults use the recent gender-neutral pan-ethnic term Latinx to describe themselves. In general, the more traditional terms Hispanic or Latino are preferred to Latinx to refer to the ethnic group.)

The U.S. Hispanic population reached 60.6 million in 2019. About one-third (36%) of Hispanics are immigrants, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Another third of Hispanics are second generation (34%) – they are U.S. born with at least one immigrant parent. The remaining 30% of Hispanics belong to the third or higher generations, that is, they are U.S. born to U.S.-born parents.

A large majority of Hispanics who are third or higher generation see themselves as typical Americans

The December 2019 survey also finds U.S. Hispanics are divided on how much of a common identity they share with other Americans, though views vary widely by immigrant generation. About half (53%) consider themselves to be a typical American, while 44% say they are very different from a typical American. By contrast, only 37% of immigrant Hispanics consider themselves a typical American. This share rises to 67% among second-generation Hispanics and to 79% among third-or-higher-generation Hispanics – views that partially reflect their birth in the U.S. and their experiences as lifelong residents of this country.

Speaking Spanish seen as a key part of Hispanic identity

What it means to be Hispanic can vary across the group. Hispanics most often say speaking Spanish is an essential part of what being Hispanic means to them, with 45% saying so. Other top elements considered to be part of Hispanic identity include having both parents of Hispanic ancestry (32%) and socializing with other Hispanics (29%). Meanwhile, about a quarter say having a Spanish last name (26%) or participating in or attending Hispanic cultural celebrations (24%) are an essential part of Hispanic identity. Lower shares say being Catholic (16%) is an essential part of Hispanic identity. (A declining share of U.S. Hispanic adults say they are Catholic.) Just 9% say wearing attire that represents their Hispanic origin is essential to Hispanic identity.

The importance of most of these elements to Hispanic identity decreases across generations. For example, 54% of foreign-born Hispanics say speaking Spanish is an essential part of what being Hispanic means to them, compared with 44% of second-generation Hispanics and 20% of third- or higher-generation Hispanics.

For U.S. Hispanics, speaking Spanish is the most important part of Hispanic identity across immigrant generations

Most Latinos feel at least somewhat connected to a broader Hispanic community in the U.S.

About six-in-ten Hispanic adults say what happens to other Hispanics affects what happens in their own lives

For U.S. Latinos, the question of identity is complex due to the group’s diverse cultural traditions and countries of origin. Asked to choose between two statements, Latinos say their group has many different cultures rather than one common culture by more than three-to-one (77% vs. 21%). There are virtually no differences on this question by immigrant generation among Latinos.

Few Hispanics report a strong sense of connectedness with other Hispanics, with only 18% saying what happens to other Hispanics in the U.S. impacts them a lot and another 40% saying it impacts them some. Immigrant Hispanics (62%) are as likely as those in the second generation (60%) to express a sense of linked fate with other Hispanics. This share decreases to 44% among the third or higher generation.

Note: Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.

Source: How Hispanics see themselves varies by number of generations in US

Voters’ Attitudes About Race and Gender Are Even More Divided Than in 2016

Source: Voters’ Attitudes About Race and Gender Are Even More Divided Than in 2016

Immigrants in America: Current Data and Demographics

Good reference source (MPI also has a great reference collection):

There were a record 44.8 million immigrants living in the U.S. in 2018, making up 13.7% of the nation’s population. This represents a more than fourfold increase since 1960, when 9.7 million immigrants lived in the U.S., accounting for 5.4% of the total U.S. population. Click the link below each summary table to download the data.

To find more context on the figures below, visit the blog post “Key findings about U.S. immigrants,” and for a downloadable version of the tables below, see the PDF and the Excel workbook. For facts on Latinos in the United States, see our profile on U.S. Hispanics.

For details on our regional grouping of countries, see our “Countries by regional classification” document (PDF).

Nativity of U.S. immigrants

Foreign-born population total 44,760,622
Percent born in Mexico 25.0%
Percent who are citizens 50.7%

Download Excel sheet with all population and nativity findings


Race of U.S. immigrants

Percent who are white alone, not Hispanic 17.7%

Download Excel sheet with all race findings


Language use among U.S. immigrants

Percent speaking English at least very well
(ages 5 and older)

Download Excel sheet with all language findings


Age and gender of U.S. immigrants

Median age of foreign-born population (in years) 45
Percent of foreign born who are female 51.8%

Download Excel sheet with all age and gender findings


Marital status and fertility of U.S. immigrants

Percent who are married
(ages 18 and older)
Percent who are women ages 15-44 giving birth in past year 7.5%

Download Excel sheet with all marriage and fertility findings


Education of U.S. immigrants

Highest degree completed, ages 25 and older

High school or less 49.2%
Two-year degree/Some college 18.8%
Bachelor’s degree or more 32.0%

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Work status and occupations of U.S. immigrants

Ages 16 and older

Percent in labor force
(among civilian population)

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Earnings and income of U.S. immigrants

Ages 16 and older

Median annual personal earnings
(in 2018 dollars, among those with earnings)
Median annual household income
(in 2018 dollars)

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Poverty and health insurance among U.S. immigrants

Percent living in poverty 14.6%
Percent uninsured 19.6%

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Homeownership and households of U.S. immigrants

Percent in family households 82.3%

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Region and top states of residence of U.S. immigrants

West 33.9%
California 23.7%
South 33.7%
Texas 11.0%
Florida 10.0%
Northeast 21.2%
New York 10.0%
New Jersey 4.6%
Midwest 11.3%

Source: Immigrants in America: Current Data and Demographics

Half of Americans say Bible should influence U.S. laws, including 28% who favor it over the will of the people