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NEW DELHI: Statistics released by the US Census Board last week show that immigrants (both legal and illegal) comprised nearly 14% of the US population. In other words, one out of seven US residents is foreign born. In terms of numbers, the foreign-born population, based on findings of the American Community Survey (2017), rose by almost 8 lakh in 2016 to stand at 44.5 million (or 4.45 crore) in July 2017, which is an increase of 1.8%.

America is touted as a land of immigrants, but this share of immigrants in the total population is the highest in over a century. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which is viewed an anti-immigration think-tank, terms this as a record increase.

“As recently as 1980, just one out of 16 US residents was foreign born,” CIS points out in its report. CIS has done an extensive analysis of the data. According to its report, the ‘sending’ countries with the largest numerical increase in immigrants between 2010 and 2017 were India (up by 8.30 lakh), China (up by 6.77 lakh) and the Dominican Republic (up by 2.83 lakh).

The percentage increases for these countries between 2010 and 2017 were 47%, 31% and 32% (see table). Nepal showed the highest percentage increase in immigrants since 2010. With 1.52 lakh Nepalese in US, as of July 2017, it showed a percentage increase of 120% since 2010. Pakistan showed a percentage increase of 31% in terms of inflow of migrants to US to stand at nearly 4 lakh in number.

According to the US Census Board, the term foreignborn, refers to individuals who were not US citizens at birth. It includes those immigrants who later obtained US citizenship, green card holders, temporary workers (such as those on H-1B visa) and international students. The report by CIS points out that between 2010 and 2017, 95 lakh new immigrants settled in the US. New arrivals are offset by roughly 3 lakh immigrants who return home each year and an annual natural mortality of an equal number.

As a result, the immigrant population grew 46 lakh from 2010 to 2017. Recent protectionist measures may, in the coming years, result in a gradual decline in the number of foreign-born in the US, owing to a number of factors, such as increase in denial of work visas or extensions to temporary workers, slowdown in hiring of immigrants, dip in the number of international students and deportation of illegal immigrants.