Eine Frau geht an einer Weltkarte, die aus Kinderporträts besteht, am Freitag (18.06.2010) im JuniorMuseum in Köln vorbei.

10.9.2012 | Von:
Nicholas Parrott

Background Information


USAUSA Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de (bpb)
The United States is often regarded as the definitive "immigrant nation". After more than two hundred years of significant inflows, immigration to the U.S. is characterized by its diversity. Each year large numbers of people from different socio-economic, educational and ethnic backgrounds are drawn to the country.

Initially, the majority of people immigrating to the U.S. were of European origin. Now the majority of newcomers are from Latin America. Successive waves of immigration from around the world have ensured that a wide range of origins are represented to some extent in today's U.S. Immigration has generally resulted from family reunification and labor migration, with relatively low refugee flows. Immigration is now both a symbol of the very essence of the U.S. and a controversial political issue. Security has played an increasingly important role in the debate since the terrorist attacks of 11th September 2001, as has the controversy surrounding the unauthorized immigrant population. This profile will give an overview of longer-term developments in immigration to the U.S. and then focus on some of the current issues.


Background Information

United States of America

Capital: Washington D.C.
Official language: de facto English; de jure: none
Area: 9,826,675 km2 (for comparison, Germany: 357,121 km2)
Population (July 2012): 313,930,180
Population density (2010): 87.4 inhabitants per km2
Population growth (2011 est.): 0.899%
Labor force participation rate (2010): 64.7%
Foreign-born population as a percentage of total (2010): 12.9% (ca. 40m persons)
Foreign-born labor force as percentage of civilian labor force (2011): 15.9%
Unemployment rate: 9.0% (2011 est.), 9.6% (2010 est.)
Religions (2007 est.): Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4%
At the outset, however, it is worthwhile to note that the U.S. is far less divided on the fundamentals of the immigration debate than current events sometimes indicate. There is continued pride in the country’s history as a nation of immigrants, and an overwhelming majority of people favor political reform that combines tougher enforcement with earned legal status for those already in the U.S.

Historical Development of Immigration

Immigration to the territory which is now the U.S.A. started with the arrival of the first settlers in the 16th century. The first major period of immigration – from the colonial period to about 1880 – was marked by the arrival of immigrants from Northern European countries, especially from England, Germany, and Ireland. The geographical region of origin then shifted during the second phase of mass immigration (1880-1920), bringing predominantly immigrants from Southern and Eastern European countries – Italians, Poles, and Russians – to the U.S. At the same time, immigration from Mexico and Japan set in. With the outbreak of World War I and the passage of several restrictive immigration laws (in 1917, 1921 and 1924), targeting especially immigration from Asia as well as Southern and Eastern Europe, mass immigration came to a halt. New waves of immigration were triggered with the abolition of national-origin quotas in 1965 and increasing global economic integration. Nowadays immigrants come predominantly from Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean.


Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl: Aktuelle Themen

Ein Kurzdossier legt komplexe Zusammenhänge aus den Bereichen Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl sowie Integration auf einfache und klare Art und Weise dar. Es bietet einen fundierten Einstieg in eine bestimmte Thematik, in dem es den Hintergrund näher beleuchtet und verschiedene Standpunkte wissenschaftlich und kritisch abwägt. Darüber hinaus enthält es Hinweise auf weiterführende Literatur und Internet-Verweise. Dies eröffnet die Möglichkeit, sich eingehender mit der Thematik zu befassen. Unsere Kurzdossiers erscheinen bis zu 6-mal jährlich.

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