How do immigrants come to America these days

Immigration to America in 6 graphics

President Trump wants to radically reform immigration to America. We show who is actually coming to America at the moment.

Regulating immigration to America is President Trump's heart project: Citizens from six predominantly Muslim countries are only allowed to enter under more stringent conditions, refugees are no longer allowed to enter, and drafts for the wall on the Mexican border are currently being examined. On Wednesday, the president presented further plans on how he wants to reform the issuing of permanent residence permits (green cards). "It would be the most radical immigration reform in more than half a century," boasted Trump.

His plans have little chance of getting through Congress in this form - because that would require at least sixty votes in the Senate, and Democrats as well as individual Republicans have already announced resistance. But the issue of immigration is likely to remain a long-running issue under the new president one way or another - reason enough to recall a few facts about immigration.

1. Illegal immigration is not increasing

Contrary to what President Trump said, illegal immigration to America is not an acute problem. According to estimates by experts, the number of people staying in the country without permission is stagnating at around 11 million. Lately more people have left the United States, especially for Mexico, than have come into the country.

The number of illegal immigrants is stagnating

2. The majority of the illegal immigrants came into the country legally - mostly from Europe

According to a report by the Department of Domestic Security, around 630,000 people exceeded their residence permits in the United States in 2016, with the survey only taking into account those arriving by air and sea and not those arriving by land. This number corresponds to only around one percent of the 50 million annual visitors to the country. Nevertheless, these “visa overstays” pose a threat to national security, according to the ministry - after all, two of the attackers on September 11, 2001 had overstated their residence permits.

The ministry examined both countries whose citizens do not need a visa to enter the USA (Visa Waiver Program), such as Germany or Switzerland, as well as nations that require a visa such as Afghanistan or African countries. With regard to the region of origin, most of the people whose residence permit has expired come from Europe.

Most of the “visa overstays” concern Europeans

People who have exceeded their visa, by region of origin; only entries by air and sea taken into account (in thousands)

3. Most of the immigrants come from Mexico, China and India

Around 11.6 million people of Mexican origin lived in the USA in 2015, so the majority of immigrants came from the neighboring country to the south. Citizens from China follow at a great distance in second place.

Of the European countries, Germany is best represented - a good half a million people of German origin lived in the USA in 2015 - ahead of Poland with 416,000 people. Switzerland made up 0.1 percent of the immigrant population; 37,699 Swiss lived in America in 2015.

One in four comes from Mexico

Place of birth of immigrants in America, as of 2015, in%

4. Immigrants are an important part of the US job market

Immigration - whether legal or illegal - is an important factor on the American labor market: In 2014, the 27 million legal immigrants made up 17 percent of the workforce in the country; According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, they often occupy positions in the financial industry, in management (37 percent) or in the service sector (22 percent). According to estimates, those who have entered the country illegally, who often work in agriculture, construction or gastronomy, make up around 5 percent of all workers.

The immigrants could play an important role, especially in the near future, when the baby boomer generation retires. Between 2015 and 2035, another 18 million immigrants of working age will join the American work force.

Immigrants as an important force in the American labor market

American Workforce Estimates, in Millions

5. The number of expulsions is lower under Trump than under Obama

The Trump administration likes to show off its tough hand towards illegal immigrants. However, as the numbers from the ICE immigration police show, Trump does not crack down on criminals who have entered illegally as much as his predecessor.

A surprising picture also emerges when looking at the deportations: In the years 2009 to 2012, the Obama administration had around 400,000 people leave the country every year. That was almost as many per month as were arrested in three months under Trump.

The fact that the number of deportations has fallen sharply in recent years under Obama can also be explained by the fact that the immigration courts have been piling up pending orders for around ten years. This is also due to the fact that paperless people seek legal redress more often.

6. Fewer and fewer immigrants want to become Americans

To become an American citizen, an applicant must meet certain requirements; Among other things, he must be over 18 years of age and have a green card, have lived in the USA for at least five years, have a good knowledge of English and history, and “have a good moral character”.

But the number of those who actually want to become Americans has stagnated recently. In the 2016 fiscal year, 971,242 people applied for citizenship, around 78 percent of whom were granted it. Interestingly, many Mexicans in particular choose not to apply for naturalization. In a 2013 survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, a quarter said that language barriers were the reason, while many said they were simply not interested.

Number of naturalizations stagnates

Successful naturalizations, by fiscal year (in millions)

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