Growth in Foreign-Born Population in U.S. in Last Decade Lowest since 1970’s

A Brookings analysis finds that from 2010 to 2020, the foreign born population in the U.S. grew at the lowest rate since the 1970’s.    From 2017-2019 the foreign born population grew by only 200,000 annually, compared to 400,000 to 1 million annually prior to the Trump administration, and remained flat as a percentage of the total U.S. population during those years.

The analysis notes that “it is clear that the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions to reduce admission of refugees have contributed to fewer inflows and greater outflows of foreign-born residents who are not naturalized citizens.”

The introduction to the analysis states

“(E)ven before COVID-19 hit, foreign-born gains plummeted between the first and third years of the Trump presidency, contributing to a growth slowdown for the entire decade. But at the same time, the data reveals that foreign-born population changes during the 2010s have countered the Trump administration’s immigration stereotype, drawing immigrants more broadly from Asia rather than Latin America, as well as favoring those with college, professional, and graduate educations.

The decade has also shown a dispersion of foreign-born persons to less urbanized states in the “middle” of the country, especially those that Trump carried in the 2016 presidential election.  All of this makes clear that foreign-born population changes in the 2010s differ sharply from those during the nation’s higher-immigration years.  This, along with increased immigration restrictions instituted by the administration since the onset of COVID-19, could likely lead to a very different immigration scenario for the 2020s with diminished overall population growth.

President-elect Biden is expected to begin immediately to roll back many of the executive and administrative actions and regulations of the Trump administration that have resulted in the decline in immigration to the U.S..  This would be a welcome change, swinging the pendulum back both to reflect the values of an immigrant nation and also to meet the country’s need for robust population growth for a strong economy.

You can find the full Brookings analysis here.