Look around your school: How many people do you know who were born in another country or whose parents were?
Chances are it’s quite a few. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that one in five United States residents is an immigrant (someone who was born in one country but moved to another) or the young child of an immigrant. Immigrants now make up 13.7 percent of the U.S. population—the largest share in more than 100 years.
The data also show that the mix of people moving here is changing. In the early 2000s, the majority of immigrants came from Latin America. Today, Asians make up the biggest group of newcomers.
“We think of immigrants as being . . . from Latin America, but for recent arrivals, that’s much less the case,” says William Frey, who analyzed the new information. However, among all immigrants living in the U.S., not just new ones, Latin Americans still comprise the largest group (see chart, below).
The census findings come at a time when immigration has become a heated topic among Americans. President Donald Trump and some lawmakers have voiced criticism about immigration. Trump has restricted the number and type of people coming into the U.S.
But other lawmakers say immigration is important to the nation’s well-being. They argue that immigrants contribute greatly to our culture and economy.
Regardless of the debate, experts say the U.S. foreign-born population will continue to rise in coming years. The Pew Research Center estimates that by 2025, immigrants will make up more than 15 percent of the population—the highest level ever.