New data from the U.S. Census Bureau—published in recognition of “World Population Day,” which was July 11—predicts that 1.24 million new immigrants will enter the United States in 2015.
The Census Bureau published the new data in its International Data Base, which contains population estimates and projections up to the year 2050. The figure from the Census Bureau is a calculation of net migration—meaning the total number of immigrants who will arrive in the United States in 2015 would actually be larger than 1.24 million, but this net figure accounts for and subtracts the number of immigrants who leave the country.
The Census Bureau is the official federal agency responsible for producing and analyzing data about the U.S. population. Adding up the Bureau’s estimates in net migration for 2015 through 2025 reveals that 14 million new immigrants are expected to enter the United States over this ten year period—a group of immigrants eight times larger than the population of the island of Manhattan.
Carrying out the Census Bureau’s projections to 2050 reveals that the United States could let in some 49 million immigrants over the next three and a half decades.
While a number of these new immigrants would arrive by illegally crossing the border or illegally overstaying a temporary visa, the overwhelming majority of them would be voluntarily allowed into the United States as a matter of federal immigration policy.
Most immigration to United States occurs legally, with foreign citizens from predominantly poor countries applying for and receiving green cards. They are invited into the United States where they will have guaranteed access to education, federal benefits, work permits and may eventually be made voting citizens.
In most Western countries—where it’s assumed that the goal of illegal immigration is zero— when political leaders talk about curbing immigration, it’s necessarily understood that they are talking about legal immigration, which is the annual immigration level formally established by the government.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, for example, in rallying support ahead of the recent U.K. elections pledged to lower immigration levels. His pledge came in response to a massive populist uprising due to Nigel Farage’s U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), which won 4 million votes in that country’s most recent elections.
“I believe we would be a better, stronger country if we had net migration in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands,” Cameron said. “That is what I wanted to achieve. But the figures are very clear I have not achieved that, I want to keep going until we do achieve it because I believe it is the right thing for our country.”
It is a unique phenomenon in America that the word “legal” is inserted before “immigration” when discussing efforts to reduce levels established by policy makers.
While in the United States the immigration debate often centers on border security, the historic flow of immigration into the United States is primarily the product of a Ted Kennedy-supported immigration law enacted in 1965, which lifted immigration caps that had been put into place during the Coolidge administration, and opened immigration to predominantly poor and developing countries.
The immigration reductions enacted in 1924 had been backed by both Republicans and labor bosses, who thought immigration curbs would both enhance assimilation and improve wages and living conditions. Then President Calvin Coolidge promoted these reforms heavily.
“We want to keep wages and living conditions good for everyone who is now here or who may come here,” Coolidge said. “As a Nation, our first duty must be to those who are already our inhabitants, whether native or immigrants. To them we owe an especial and a weighty obligation.”
American Federation of Labor (AFL) founder and president Samuel Gompers also backed them.
“Those who favor unrestricted immigration care nothing for the people,” Gompers said.
These days, however, in Washington, leaders of both political parties and even the group Gompers founded—now the AFL-CIO—have abandoned American workers in pushing for massive increases in immigration. But there are some populists fighting back on Capitol Hill.
Echoing Gompers and Coolidge, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) delivered a speech on the House floor arguing that any politician who wishes to improve the jobs market ought to support immigration controls that reduce the labor supply.
Brooks cited research compiled by the Center for Immigration Studies—which was derived from Census data—showing that all job gains from 2000-2014 went to foreign workers.
Polls show Brooks’ call is strongly supported by the American public who have repeatedly expressed opposition to the federal government’s mass importation of foreign workers and their dependents. For instance, a recent Gallup poll showed Americans wanted to see immigration cuts by a 2 to 1 margin, and a recent poll from Kellyanne Conway found that a plurality of Americans wish to see a moratorium on immigration for the time being.
Brooks’ call, however, does not appear to be supported by leaders in his own party—none of whom have called for any effort to reduce the record high number of green cards dispensed each year by the federal government.
In 1970, fewer than 1 in 21 Americans were foreign-born. Today, nearly 1 in 7 U.S. residents was born in a foreign country. According to data compiled by the Migration Policy Institute, 80 million—or 1 in 4—Americans is either an immigrant or a child of an immigrant.
In 8 years time, according to previous reports from the U.S. Census Bureau, the foreign born share of the U.S. population will reach an all-time high.
When the European immigration wave caused the foreign-born population share to peak in 1910, reforms were soon after enacted that slashed immigration into the United States for the next half century.
However now, unlike then, the Census Bureau projects immigration will keep climbing year after year establishing new records never before witnessed in American history.
The Census Bureau projections assume that Congress will make no effort to cut the historic annual rate of foreign worker importation into the United States.
In fact, politicians in both parties are pushing to boost immigration beyond even the current record high that sees another million plus immigrants automatically added in the United States every year. The Gang of Eight bill for instance, led by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would have tripled the number of green cards issued over the next ten years. This plan was backed by a coalition that included Democratic activists, large Republican donors, as well as big business groups, who hoped that the record expansion of the labor supply would further depress wages.
While Republicans have largely ignored the implications of the census data, the White House has seized on the annual policy of importing over one million new immigrants, launching “The New Americans Project” to encourage green card holders to register as U.S. citizens, which would confer access to all federal benefits programs as well as the U.S. voting booth.