14% of Residents Are Born Outside the US, Returning to Historic Levels

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About 44 million people in the US are foreign-born, nearly half of whom are naturalized citizens (49.3%) (Fig. 111). They are older, on average than the native-born population, with a median age of 44.8 compared to 36.2. Almost half of the foreign-born (44.3%) are Hispanic, and over a quarter are of Asian descent (27.1%). The foreign-born are more likely to have jobs in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and professional, scientific, and management industries, and have lower median earnings than their native-born counterparts.

Approximately 12 million unauthorized immigrants live in the US as of the most recent government study from 2015 (Fig. 112). The size of the unauthorized population has remained relatively stable since 2005, following an increase around the turn of the century. Some unauthorized immigrants choose to move back to their country of origin; however, the government doesn’t publish the number of unauthorized individuals leaving the US.

The US Customs and Border Patrol, responsible for patrolling 8,000 miles of land and coastal borders, apprehended 404k individuals who were not lawfully in the United States in 2018, down from 1.7 million in 2000 (Fig. 113). In addition to overland border crossings, many unauthorized immigrants come to the US on visas that they then overstay. The Department of Homeland Security estimates there were 700k visa overstays in 2017, which is 1.3% of legal visas issued. Of overstays, 22% are from Canada and Mexico. The overstay rate for visa holders from these countries is the same as the average for all countries, but they account for a much larger share of legal visa holders.