How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

By the numbers: Just how welcoming is the U.S. to immigrants?

Ever wonder how the United States ranks in immigrant-friendliness? When you set the rhetoric aside and simply look at the numbers of people admitted, it appears at first glance to be the most welcoming nation in the world - until you compare that welcome based on immigrants as a percentage of its population.

Forbes has an interesting piece on that math, taking a look at inbound migration to the U.S. from different perspectives. Based on international migration statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United States ranks first on a list of 25 nations for admitting the most immigrants on an annual basis, roughly a million a year. Its rank drops impressively, though - to number 22 on the list - when you calculate this inflow as a percentage of the population. That list is topped by Luxembourg, followed by Switzerland.

And when you look at immigrants in general as a percentage of the population, the U.S. ranks 12th, below countries like Canada, Israel, Australia and New Zealand, as well as several European nations. What to conclude from all this? From the piece:

There are two important lessons from this data. First, when you consider the size of our population, we are not the most immigrant friendly country in the world. Australia, Switzerland, Canada, and other wealthy countries do a far better job than we do by more appropriate measures. This also suggests that we are not doomed to become a poor country if we move to higher rates of immigration.

Are immigrant populations like this untenable in the U.S.? The data does not suggest this is the case. Immigrants make up over 20% of the population in New York, California, and New Jersey. These states also happen to rank 3rd, 10th, and 16th by median income.

Instead of 1 million immigrants a year, these numbers suggest we could be letting in as many as 3 million a year and we would still not rank in the top 5.

Read the entire piece with comparison tables here.

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