The state of U.S. immigration

Founded by colonists, settlers and pioneers, the United States has always defined itself as a land of immigrants. But immigration has varied dramatically across decades. While immigrants in the 1920s were primarily of European origin, the country is now amid a historic wave of newcomers, with a growing percentage from Asia and Latin America.

Immigrant population booms

Waves of Europeans fled famine, chaos and tyranny in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, swelling the country with new faces and accents. They settled in the greatest concentrations in Eastern cities and across the Midwest.

After World War II, immigration slowed. But a new boom of immigrants from Asia and Latin America began in the 1960s and has continued to grow. The percentage of immigrants is back up to the peak proportion seen in 1920. Another difference is that a slight majority of the current boom do not have citizenship.

These census figures do not indicate documented or undocumented immigration, and it is likely that undocumented immigrants are undercounted altogether in this data.

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