Nearly 59 million immigrants have entered the United States in the last five decades, pushing the nation’s foreign-born population close to record highs, according to a Pew Research Center report.
The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, championed by then-Sen. Ted Kenney (D-MA), shifted the nation’s immigration system from a more limited European-centric model to one which spurred a massive influx of largely Latin American and Asian immigrants to the U.S.
“After the replacement of the nation’s European-focused origin quota system, greater numbers of immigrants from other parts of the world began to come to the U.S. Among immigrants who have arrived since 1965, half (51%) are from Latin America and one-quarter are from Asia. By comparison, both of the U.S. immigration waves in the mid-19th century and early 20th century consisted almost entirely of European immigrants,” Pew reports.
As Pew details, since 1965 the foreign-born population in the U.S. has exploded from 9.6 million to a record 45 million this year (due to deaths and departures the foreign-born population is lower than the raw 59 million immigrant arrivals).
The result of this immigration swell has been a marked change in the country’s demographic make-up. In 1965, 84 percent of the U.S. was white, 4 percent was Hispanic, and 1 percent was Asian. Compare those percentage’s to 2015 where whites are now 62 percent of the population, Hispanics are 18 percent and Asians make up 6 percent.
If current trends continue, in the next 50 years the U.S. will be host to 78 million immigrants and immigrants and their decedents are projected to account for 88 percent of the U.S. population increase, or 103 million people.
“The country’s overall population will feel the impact of these shifts,” Pew reports. “Non-Hispanic whites are projected to become less than half of the U.S. population by 2055 and 46% by 2065. No racial or ethnic group will constitute a majority of the U.S. population. Meanwhile, Hispanics will see their population share rise to 24% by 2065 from 18% today, while Asians will see their share rise to 14% by 2065 from 6% today.”