Immigration in the US
Although the US is undoubtedly a “country of immigrants” the arrival of new citizens has always created tensions with the children of those who disembarked earlier. Despite this, the data shows that the 43 million immigrants currently living in the United States and their 39 million American children make a critical contribution to the country’s economy, including those who are there illegally. The myths that associate immigration with crime or abuse of social services is just that, myths.
When the US is said to be “a country of immigrants” it is much more than a cliché. Only 1.5% of the population descends from Native Americans, which means that 98.5% have their family origin in another part of the world. The country’s founders were primarily descendants of the British, Dutch, and Swedes who settled on the East Coast in the early 17th century and almost immediately began buying black slaves forcibly brought from Africa. But this was only the beginning.
The newly born United States of America decided by law in 1790 to give nationality to any “white person of good character” who resided for two years in its territory. Between 1820 and 1920 alone, almost 40 million immigrants arrived legally in the United States, almost all of them Europeans: first Irish and German, then Italians and Austro-Hungarians, more British, Russians … It is estimated that four out of ten Americans have their roots in Ellis Island, the islet next to the Statue of Liberty that served as a gateway for millions of Europeans between 1892 and 1954. Since the 1960s, the majority of immigrants to the US have been Latin American.
Who are immigrants in America today?
43 million people in the United States, 13% of the population, were born in another country. Of these, political interest is usually focused on just over eleven million who are illegally in the United States, but it should be remembered that there are more than thirteen million who have the papers in order and the twenty million who have already obtained US citizenship. . In addition, there are another 39 million who are American children of migrants, known as “the second generation,” another 12% of the population.
There are many immigrants, but unevenly distributed: more than half are concentrated in a handful of states. In California, the richest and most populous in the country, one in four inhabitants is born outside the United States and half of the children have at least one migrant parent. In Los Angeles County alone, 36% of the population is not American by birth. Besides California, the other three states with the largest immigrant population are the other economic engines of the country: Texas, New York and Florida. In all of them, immigrants exceed 10% of the population, while in 43 other states the percentage of the immigrant population does not reach 3%.