Immigrants with legal status make up 70 percent of the U.S. foreign-born population.[source]
Demographers estimate that in 2005:[source]
- Legal permanent residents were 32 percent of the foreign-born (11.8 million, including 1.3 million who arrived as refugees).
- Naturalized citizens were 35 percent (12.8 million, including 1.3 million who arrived as refugees).
- Temporary legal residents (such as students and temporary workers) were 3 percent (1.3 million).
- Unauthorized migrants were 30 percent (11.1 million).
Many immigrants are becoming citizens, but many more who are eligible face barriers to naturalization.
- The number of naturalized citizens almost doubled between the mid-1990s and 2002, from 6.5 to 11 million.[source]
- Although naturalization numbers and rates have increased, at least eight million immigrants are eligible to naturalize but have not.[source]
- Language is a major barrier: 60 percent of naturalization-eligible immigrants have limited proficiency in English.[source]
- Delays in immigration processing have increased waiting times for naturalization and green cards: Between 1990 and 2003, the number of applications pending approval increased by more than 1,000 percent, from 540,688 to 6.08 million.[source]
- Nevertheless, immigrants' interest in becoming U.S. citizens remains high.
- In the first three months of 2006, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security received more than 185,000 naturalization applications, representing a 19 percent increase over the same period last year.[source]
- In March 2006, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received a record 6.6 million hits on its website. The website received 2.2 million requests to download forms, including the N-400 for naturalization-- a leap from 1.8 million requests in February.[source]
The undocumented population has increased since the mid-1990s.
- Annual arrivals of undocumented immigrants have exceeded legal admissions since the mid-1990s. Since 2000, legal admissions have averaged 610,000 a year and unauthorized entries have averaged 700,000 a year. In contrast, in the 1980s, legal admissions averaged 650,000 a year and unauthorized entries averaged 140,000.[source]
- As of March 2006, between 11.5 and 12 million undocumented immigrants resided in the United States, constituting 30 percent of all immigrants.[source]
- Although the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has grown, the rate of undocumented migration from Mexico has remained steady, as a percentage of the Mexico population, since 1980.[source]
Immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, are thoroughly woven into the fabric of American families and communities.
- Eighty-five percent of all immigrant families with children are mixed-status families, with at least one immigrant parent and one U.S. citizen child.[source]
- Three-quarters of children in immigrant families are U.S. citizens.[source]
- Two-thirds of the 4.9 million children with undocumented parents are U.S. citizens.[source]