Long-Term Trends in Immigration
Heavy immigration, primarily from Europe, in the 19th and early 20th century pushed the immigrant population of the US up to 13.5 million, 14.7% of the population, by 1910. Then the open door closed, and sixty years later the immigrant population had dropped to the lowest level of the 20th Century, 9.6 million, only 4.7% of the populace. In the seventies, we saw a new immigration boom begin which lasted forty years, this time primarily from Latin America and Asia, which has brought the immigrant population up to a new all-time high of 40 million, a post-Depression high of 12.9% of the population. It is likely that this latest immigrant wave has ended; there has been negative net immigration from Mexico since the economic crisis began and so many construction jobs disappeared. Another important factor is that Mexico and other third world countries are now aging and their economies are growing, allowing people to make lives for themselves at home. So while many in the GOP continue to beat the drum for more border security as part of an immigration bill, its just playing to the base; locking the door doesn’t matter much when there are few trying to get inside. This won’t end the GOP’s demographic nightmare, however. With the median age of non-hispanic whites in the 40s compared to a median age in prime child-bearing age for the country’s hispanic population, we have already reached the point where the majority of live births in the US are to non-white and mixed race couples.