The U.S. is a Nation of Immigrants

  • About one million immigrants arrive in the U.S.each year.
  • Immigrants account for 13.6 percent of the population in the U.S., the highest share since 1910.
  • America is home to more immigrants than in any country in the world.

The Immigration System Is Broken and Exploited

  • Most immigrants are in the U.S. legally.However, increasing numbers attempt to enter the U.S. through a porous Southern Border or to overstay their visa.
  • Illegal immigration has consequences for wages, social safety nets, and public safety. 
    • Illegal immigration reduces the wages flow-skilled U.S. workers anywhere from 0.4 to 7.4 percent. 
    • Illegal immigrants receive tens of billions of dollars in safety-net benefits.
    • The average illegal immigrant in federal, state, or local prison has been arrested8.3 times.
  • Some illegal immigrants exploit the U.S. asylum system as a fast-track into the U.S. Ultimately, this overwhelms Border Enforcement and adds to the backlog of nearly 1 million immigration cases.
  • Today, there are an estimated 2.3 million DREAMERS currently in the U.S. Congress has failed to address the situation with DREAMERS over 20 times since the DREAM Act was introduced 18 years ago.
  • The U.S. legal immigration system has not been updated since 1965.

We Need Sensible Immigration Reform

  • Steps should be taken immediately to increase border security and immigration court staffing and to fix asylum laws that are being exploited for quick entry.
  • Work permissions and legal residency status could be provided immediately to DREAMERS fora defined period of time conditioned on certain requirements.
  • Lawmakers should modernize and update our legal immigration system.

For more on this topic, read IWF’s policy focus.