Immigration to the United States of America is the movement of non-residents to the United States, and has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the American history even though the foreign born have never been more than 16% of the population since about 1675. In 1900, when the US population was 76 million, there were about 500,000 Hispanics. Of those who immigrated between 2000 and 2005, 58% were from Latin America.
Laws concerning immigration and naturalization The first naturalization law in the United States was the Naturalization Act of 1790, which restricted naturalization to "free white persons" of "good moral character" who had resided in the country for two years and had kept their current state of residence for a year. In 1795 this was increased to five years residence and three years after notice of intent to apply for citizenship, and again to 14 years residence and five years notice of intent in 1798.
The Fourteenth Amendment, passed in 1865, protects children born in the United States. The phrase: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside" was interpreted by the Supreme Court in the 1898 case United States v. Wong Kim Ark as covering everyone born in the U.S. regardless of the citizenship of the parents, with the exception of the children of diplomats. See the articles jus soli (birthplace) and jus sanguinis (bloodline) for further discussion.
The next significant change in the scope of naturalization law came in 1870, when the law was broadened to allow African-Americans to be naturalized. Asian immigrants were excluded from naturalization but not from living in the United States. There were also significant restrictions on some Asians at the state level, for example in California, non-citizen Asians were not allowed to own land. Since a significant number of people never go through naturalization, once they are authorized to live in the US, this restriction for most was merely a formality.
After the immigration of 123,000 Chinese in the 1870s, who joined the 105,000 who had immigrated between 1850 and 1870, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 which specifically limited further Chinese immigration. Chinese had immigrated to the Western United States as a result of unsettled conditions in China, the availability of jobs working on railroads, and the Gold Rush that was going on at that time in California.
Historically, the children of immigrants within the United States have been greatly effected by cultural misunderstanding, language barriers, and feelings of isolation within the school atmosphere. However, more recently, immigrant children are finding a more welcoming school atmosphere. This does not undermine the difficulties immigrants face upon entering U.S.schools. Often times immigrant children maintain their native tongue which can leave them feeling disadvantaged within English speaking schools. According to Joseph S. Roucek, "a second language, especially when aquired in infancy or childhood, is believed by some to interfere with the proper integration of personality, and in extreme cases to lead to emotional and moral disorganization" (Roucek, 226).
One of the most important factors regarding public opinion about immigration is the level of unemployment; anti-immigrant sentiment is highest where unemployment is highest and vice-versa. Conservative editorialist Robert Samuelson points out that poor immigrants strains public services such as local schools and health care. He points out that "from 2000 to 2006, 41 percent of the increase in people without health insurance occurred among Hispanics." According to the immigration reduction advocacy group Center for Immigration Studies, 25.8% of Mexican immigrants lived in poverty — more than double the rate for natives in 1999. In another report, The Heritage Foundation notes that from 1990 to 2006, the number of poor Hispanics increased 3.2 million, from 6 million to 9.2 million.
Americans constitute approximately 5% of the world's population, but they produce roughly 25% of the world’s CO2, consume about 25% of world’s resources, including approximately 26% of the world's energy, although having only around 3% of the world’s known oil reserves, and generate approximately 30% of world’s waste. The average American's impact on the environment is approximately 250 times greater than the average Sub-Saharan African's. This is, of course, a natural consequence of the USA producing about a quarter of the world's GDP.
The bulk of empirical studies the last century have found that immigrants typically are underrepresented in criminal statistics. An Op-Ed in The New York Times by Harvard University Professor in Sociology Robert J. Sampson says that immigration of Hispanics may in fact be associated with decreased crime.A 1999 paper by John Hagan and Alberto Palloni estimated that the involvement in crime by Hispanic immigrants are less than that of other citizens. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, as of 2001, 4% of Hispanic males in their twenties and thirties were in prison or jail - as compared to 1.8% of white males.
The health of immigrants and the cost to the public of immigrants using public health has been widely discussed and disputed. Immigrants, legal and illegal, do use the public health care system, particularly emergency room services. The use of emergency rooms is indicative of low levels of insurance, and research has shown that immigrants have disproportionately low access to health care and underutilize the health care system. For this and other reasons, there have been various disputes about how much immigration is costing the United States public health system. University of Maryland economist and Cato Institute scholar, Julian Lincoln Simon, concluded in 1995 that although overall, immigrants probably pay more into the health system than they take out, this is not likely the case for elderly immigrants and many refugees, who are more dependent on public services for survival.
The history of HIV/AIDS in the United States began in about 1969, when HIV likely entered the United States through a single infected immigrant from Haiti. In general, various researchers have found what is called the "Healthy Immigrant effect," that immigrants tend to be healthier (mental health, healthy nutrition) than individuals born in the US.
Various researchers have criticized the position held by Simon and others that increased US population growth is sustainable. David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell University, and Mario Giampietro, senior researcher at the National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition (INRAN), place in theirs study Food, Land, Population and the U.S. Economy the maximum U.S. population for a sustainable economy at 200 million. To achieve a sustainable economy the United States must reduce its population by at least one-third. Current U.S. population of more than 300 million and U.S. population growth of approximately three million people each year, partly fuelled by immigration, are unsustainable, says study.
Political and social
Immigrants differ on their political views. For example, many Cubans and Colombians tend to favor conservative political ideologies and support the Republicans, while Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Asian Americans lean more towards the Democratic Party; however, because the latter groups are far more numerous (Mexicans alone are nearly 60% of Hispanics), the Democratic Party is considered to be in a far stronger position among immigrants overall.
Legal immigration to the U.S. increased from 2.5 million in the 1950s to 4.5 million in the 1970s to 7.3 million in the 1980s to about 10 million in the 1990s. After 2000 legal immigrants to the United States number approximately 1,000,000 legal immigrants per year of which about 600,000 are Change of Status immigrants who already are in the U.S. Legal immigrants to the United States now are at their highest level ever at over 35,000,000 legal immigrants. Illegal immigration may be as high as 1,500,000 per year with a net of at least 700,000 more illegal immigrants arriving each year to join the 12,000,000 to 20,000,000 that are already here. (Pew Hispanic Data Estimates) Contemporary immigrants settle predominantly in seven states: California, New York, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Illinois. These are all high foreign born population states, together comprising about 44% of the US population as a whole. The combined total immigrant population of these seven states is much higher than what would be proportional, with 70% of the total foreign-born population as of 2000.
1. The average number of legal immigrants/year immigrating from 2000 to 2004
2. The number of foreign born immigrants in the U.S. from 2000 census
3. Year 2004 foreign born. Year 2000 foreign born plus 2000 to 2004 immigration
4. Year 2010 foreign born projected assuming average number per year is maintained
5. Percent of foreign born from this country
6. Legal immigration numbers as reported to immigration authorities only
7. Estimated illegal immigration numbers.
Public attitudes about immigration in the U.S. have been heavily influenced by the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The number of Americans who told the Gallup poll they wanted immigration restricted increased 20 percentage points after the attacks. Half of Americans say tighter controls on immigration would do "a great deal" to enhance U.S. national security, according to a Public Agenda survey. Public opinion surveys suggest that Americans see both the good and bad sides of immigration at the same time. A June 2006 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found the public evenly divided on the fundamental question of whether immigration helps or hurts the country, with 44 percent saying it helps and 45 percent saying it hurts the U.S. Surveys do show that the U.S. public has a far more positive outlook about legal immigration than illegal immigration. The public is less willing to provide government services or legal protections to illegal immigrants. When survey data is examined by race, African Americans are both more willing to extend government services to illegal immigrants and more worried about competition for jobs, according to the Pew Research Center. Three-quarters of immigrants surveyed by Public Agenda said they intend to make the U.S. their permanent home. If they had it to do over again, 80 percent of immigrants say they would still come to the U.S. But half of immigrants say the government has become tougher on enforcing immigration laws since 9/11 and three in 10 report they have personally experienced discrimination.
Scholars have come to various opinions about the economic effects of immigration. Those who find that immigrants produce a negative effect on the US economy often focus on the difference between taxes paid and government services received and wage-lowering effects among low-skilled native workers, while those who find positive economics effects focus on added productivity and lower costs to consumers for certain goods and services. In a late 1980's study, economists themselves overwhelmingly viewed immigration, including illegal immigration as a positive for the economy. According to James Smith, a senior economist at Santa Monica-based RAND Corporation and lead author of the United States National Research Council's study "The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration.", immigrants contribute as much as $10 billion to the U.S. economy each year. The NRC report found that although immigrants, especially those from Latin America, were a net cost in terms of taxes paid versus social services received, overall immigration was a net economic gain due to an increase in pay for higher-skilled workers, lower prices for goods and services produced by immigrant labor, and more efficiency and lower wages for some owners of capital. The report also notes that although immigrant workers compete with domestic workers for some low skilled jobs, some immigrants specialize in activities that otherwise would not exist in an area, and thus are performing services that otherwise would not exist, and thus can be beneficial for all domestic residents U.S. Census Bureau's Survey of Business Owners: Hispanic-Owned Firms: 2002 indicated that the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States grew to nearly 1.6 million in 2002. Those Hispanic-owned businesses generated about $222 billion in revenue. The report notes that the burden of poor immigrants is not born equally among states, and is most heavy in California. Another claim that those supporting current and expanded immigration levels is that immigrants mostly do jobs Americans don't want. A 2006 Pew Hispanic Center report added evidence to support that claim when they found that increasing immigration levels have not hurt employment prospects for American workers.
Population and immigration 1600-1790 CE
Many speculate that the Ancient Norse seafarers discovered North America centuries before the British. However, the first successful English colony in what is now the United States was established as a barely successful business enterprise, after much loss of life, in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia. Once tobacco was found to be a profitable crop, many plantations were established along the Chesapeake Bay and along the Southern rivers and coast. These constituted the southern colonies.
Population and immigration 15,000 BCE - 1500 CE
The first humans in North America are believed to have migrated from northeast Asia, via the land bridge available during the most recent glaciation. The land bridge was closed when the ice melted about 10,000 years ago. The group of people locked into the Americas at that time developed into the various indigenous peoples of the Americas.
Population and immigration 1500-1600 CE
European immigration to the current territory of the US started a few decades after Columbus' discovery in 1492 and it was mainly composed of Spaniards. The first cities to be founded were Pensacola in 1559 by the Spaniards, Fort Caroline in 1564 (by the French) and San Agustín (nowadays Saint Augustine) in Florida by the Spaniards in 1565. At the same time the Colorado River valley started to be populated by people from New Spain, currently Mexico, and Santa Fe, Albuquerque and other cities were founded in time. The British crown tried to prevent Spanish Immigration in Florida since the beginning, and San Agustín was destroyed or plundered several times by pirates at the service of the crown or by the British army, though it was located in territory belonging to the Spanish Crown.