Photo courtesy of Erica Marshall/Flickr (Creative Commons)
For those who love statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau has compiled a nifty list of historical census facts regarding the nation's foreign-born population, as hot of a newsworthy topic today as it was in the nineteenth century.
Here's nifty historical fact number one:
The foreign-born population accounted for 10 percent of the total U.S. population in 1850, and 15 percent in1890. Today, the foreign-born comprise 12 percent of the population.
In other words, immigrants are no bigger part of the population than they were 111 years ago, and comprise only a slightly larger piece of the pie today than they did before the Civil War.
Also in the numbers, though, is one telling difference that may well influence perceptions: The ethnic and racial makeup of the foreign born.
From another item on the list:
The Migration Policy Institute released some updated charts yesterday illustrating the historical movement of people into the United States, and seeing the trends mapped out - in some cases going back to 1820 - is rather fascinating.
A line chart illustrates legal residents admitted to the country between 1820 and 2009, with major spikes occurring at the beginning of the last century, and again around 20 years ago. Another chart, above, shows naturalizations since 1907, breaking out the spikes in military naturalizations that took place during WWI and WWII (though the more recent ones, oddly, aren't reported).
Perhaps more intriguing are unexpected charts like one, at left, that illustrates immigrants as a percentage of the total U.S. population going back to 1850. One surprising tidbit I learned at a glance: The percentage of the U.S. population today that is foreign-born is, in fact, lower than it was in the early 1900s and during much of the later 1800s.