Home / Reports / 2023 State of the Union / Immigration


Immigration to the US rose in FY 2021 after a drop in 2020.

About 1.5 million people immigrated to the US in 2021.


Excluding tourism and unauthorized arrivals, most people arriving in the US are temporary workers, students, or coming to be with their families.

In 2021, people from Mexico were the largest share of immigrants coming for work (56%), while people from India were the largest share coming to be with family (18%). China comprised the highest percentage of people coming for school (19%).


About 13.6% of people in the US are foreign-born.

The foreign-born share of the population rose from a low of 4.7% in 1970 to 12.4% in 2005. The upward trend relatively flattened after that and has remained above 12% every year since.


Foreign-born people are more likely to be in the labor force and in a married-couple family than people born in the US.

A higher share of immigrants is also between the ages of 25 and 54, the ages when people are most likely to be employed. Fifty-five percent of immigrants are in this age group, compared with 36% of native-born people.


Government spending on immigration and border security dropped in 2022 after hitting a record high in 2020 and staying elevated in 2021.

The federal government spent $19.9 billion (about 0.3% of all its spending) on immigration and border security last year. After adjusting for inflation, this was the fourth-highest level of spending since at least 1980.


The number of immigrants turned away or apprehended at borders reached 2.8 million in FY 2022, the highest number since at least 1980.

Border encounters have increased annually since 2017 except for 2020.


Immigration officials removed 89,000 people from the US in 2021. This is the fewest removals since 1996.

The drop is partly related to COVID-19 restrictions and less immigration in 2020. About 71% of FY 2021 removals were for criminal offenses, the top three offenses being for drugs, immigration, or assault.


The federal government estimated 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants were in the country in 2018.

That same year, the total foreign-born population was 44.7 million. The Department of Homeland Security has not published new data on unauthorized immigrants since providing these estimates in January 2021.

Continue exploring the State of the Union (2023)

Explore more of USAFacts