Comprehensive immigration reform has eluded Congress for years. With border crossings at a record high, how are policymakers responding?

  • The United States is home to more foreign-born residents than any other country in the world. In 2021, immigrants composed almost 14 percent of the U.S. population.
  • Congress has failed to agree on how to address immigration challenges, leaving many policy questions up to the courts and executive branch.
  • President Joe Biden has reversed many of former President Donald Trump’s restrictive policies, even as he has struggled with a historic influx of migrants.

Immigration has been a touchstone of the U.S. political debate for decades, as policymakers have weighed economic, security, and humanitarian concerns. Congress has been unable to reach an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform for years, effectively moving some major policy decisions into the executive and judicial branches of government and fueling debate in the halls of state and municipal governments.

President Donald Trump put the issues back at the center of public debate with his unprecedented efforts to curb immigration and reshape asylum policy. President Joe Biden pledged to reverse Trump’s actions and reform the system, but the end of pandemic-related border restrictions and a historic surge in migration have complicated his plans.

What is the immigrant population in the United States?

Immigrants composed 13.6 percent of the U.S. population in 2021, or about 45 million people out of a total of more than 332 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Together, immigrants and their U.S.-born children make up about 27 percent of U.S. inhabitants per the 2022 Current Population Survey, and the Census Bureau has predicted that the total number of immigrants living in the United States will reach 65 million by 2050.


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