Historians estimate that fewer than 1 million immigrants – perhaps as few as 400,000 – crossed the Atlantic during the 17th and 18th centuries. Relatively few 18th-century immigrants came from England: only 80,000 between 1700 and 1775, compared to 350,000 during the 17th century. In addition, between the 17th and 19th centuries, an estimated 645,000 Africans were brought to what is now the United States. In the early years of the United States, immigration was fewer than 8,000 people a year. After 1820, immigration gradually increased. From 1850 to 1930, the foreign born population of the United States increased from 2.2 million to 14.2 million. The highest percentage of foreign born people in the United States was found in this period, with the peak in 1890 at 14.7%. During this time, the lower costs of Atlantic Ocean travel in time and fare made it more advantageous for immigrants to move to the U.S. than in years prior. From 1880 to 1924, over 25 million Europeans migrated to the United States.
Following this time period, immigration fell because in 1924 Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924, which favored immigrant source countries that already had many immigrants in the U.S. by 1890. Immigration patterns of the 1930s were dominated by the Great Depression, and in the early 1930s, more people emigrated from the United States than immigrated to it. Immigration continued to fall throughout the 1940s and 1950s, but it increased again afterwards.
Appointed by President Clinton, the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, led by Barbara Jordan, called for reducing legal immigration to about 550,000 a year. Since September 11, 2001, the politics of immigration has become an extremely hot issue. It was a central topic of the 2008 election cycle.
The number of foreign nationals who became legal permanent residents (LPRs) of the U.S. in 2009 as a result of family reunification (66 percent) outpaced those who became LPRs on the basis of employment skills (13 percent) and humanitarian reasons (17 percent). SinceWorld War II, more refugees have found homes in the U.S. than any other nation and more than two million refugees have arrived in the U.S. since 1980. Of the top ten countries accepting resettled refugees in 2006, the United States accepted more than twice as much as the next nine countries combined. One econometrics report in 2010 by analyst Kusum Mundra suggested that immigration positively affected bilateral trade when the U.S. had a networked community of immigrants, but that the trade benefit was weakened when the immigrants became assimilated into American culture.
Source: US Department of Homeland Security, Persons Obtaining Legal Permanent Resident Status: Fiscal Years 1820 to 2010
The table above does not include the years 2011 and 2012. According to Permanent residence (United States), in 2011 there were 2.7 million entries entered in the Diversity Visa Lottery. So far in 2012, there has been 19.6 million participants. The numbers increase tremendously each year. There is now a waiting period held by the U.S. government to decide who will be eligible for entry as a permanent resident of the United States.
America was created based on the idea that it was the great melting pot of the world. We must find a way to keep that dream alive while keeping our country safe. Great innovations have come from American immigrants. Keeping open the arms of Lady Liberty and preserving the American dream is a very Republican cause.