Immigrants Arriving in 2016 by Status

Lets explore some data on the numbers and geographic distribution of illegal immigration in the US, remembering of course that illegal immigration is only one part of the broader immigration policy issue. Use the graph below to explore data on the flow of illegal immigration. We also tell you a little about the contemporary political debates on the issue. When you are done exploring, answer the questions below using the data as a resource, and click “submit” to activate the arrow to advance.

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Source: US Department of Homeland Security, 2018


Lawful permanent residents: informally called green-card holders, lawful permanent residents are non-citizen immigrants to the US legally allowed to reside in the country permanently; a large percentage of lawful permanent residents are eligible to apply for citizenship.

I-94: the form used for, and common name applied to the visa status of, any individuals entering the USA who are not citizens or legal permanent residents, with few exceptions. Most immigrants living in the US today completed an I-94 form upon arrival.

Refugees: individuals seeking refuge in the US from government persecution in their home country, applying while still outside the US.

Asylees: individuals seeking refuge in the US from government persecution in their home countries, applying while already inside the US.

Refugees and Asylum-Seekers in Focus

While this activity focuses primarily on illegal immigration issues, legal immigration has also been a major source of debate in the US, including disagreements over the numbers, sources, and types of legal immigrants to the United States. One of these arguments, especially recently, has focused on refugees and asylum-seekers. Some have argued that the US should limit the number of asylum-seekers and refugees admitted to the US, on the basis of national security concerns, or because they believe that the US should not be establishing itself as a refuge for those fleeing the problems of other parts in the world. Others have argued that the US should maintain or increase the flow of refugees and approve more asylum requests, because providing a safe home for those whose human rights are being violated is an important responsibility, and that refugees and asylum-seekers have measurable positive impacts on the economy.

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