Which country sends the most LEGAL immigrants to the U.S.? The answer might surprise you

Which country sends the most LEGAL immigrants to the U.S.? The answer might surprise you

It has been well documented that most illegal immigrants who arrive in our country come from Mexico. But can you name the country that is the source of the majority of legal immigrants to the U.S.?

Its name is also Mexico.

Mexico and a few other Latin American and Asian countries now dominate legal immigration to the U.S., a new chart from the Congressional Research Service illustrates.

Congress opened the door to immigrants from Asia, the Middle East and Latin America in 1965 through an overhaul of immigration law that scrapped a long-standing national origins quota in favor of a system that emphasizes family reunification and skills. Mexico and six or seven countries from those parts of the globe now dominate legal immigration, as the CRS chart obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation shows.

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Before the 1965 law, immigrants from a shifting group of three or four countries made up more than half of all legal permanent residents. Germany, Italy, Russia, Canada and Austria-Hungary dominated immigration in the early part of the century, along with Mexico to a lesser extent. Since the 1965 law, however, Mexico has become the dominant sender, along with seven or eight other mostly Latin American and Asian countries.


From 1981 to 2010, Mexico dominated immigration to the United States, sending about 20% of all legal immigrants on average. Other top senders are the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Colombia and Cuba in Latin America, as well as the Philippines, India, China, South Korea and Vietnam.

In the past 50 years, the foreign born population of the United States has grown to an unprecedented size in number, and soon in proportion of the U.S. population. In 1960 there were just under 10 million immigrants living in the U.S., and 75% of them were from Europe, another new CRS chart shows. In 2014, there were 42 million immigrants living in the U.S., and 82% of them are from Latin America and Asia.


The foreign-born population is about 13% of the U.S. population, a level not seen since immigrants made up about 15% of the U.S. population in 1910. By 2065, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. residents will be foreign-born, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

This report, by Rachel Stoltzfoos, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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