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More than half of foreign-born people in U.S. live in 4 states, and half are from Latin America

In California, New Jersey, New York and Florida, foreign-born people comprised more than 20% of each state’s population.
naturalization ceremony us american usa flag
Over 46 million people in the U.S. were born abroad, about 14% of the country's population.Eric Gay / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — More than half of the foreign-born population in the United States lives in just four states — California, Texas, Florida and New York — and their numbers grew older and more educated over the past dozen years, according to a new report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2022, the foreign-born population was estimated to be 46.2 million people, or almost 14% of the U.S. population, with most states seeing double-digit percentage increases in the last dozen years, according to the figures from the bureau’s American Community Survey.

In California, New Jersey, New York and Florida, foreign-born individuals comprised more than 20% of each state’s population. They constituted 1.8% of West Virginia’s population, the smallest rate in the U.S.

Half of the foreign-born residents in the U.S. were from Latin America, although their composition has shifted in the past dozen years, with those from Mexico dropping by about 1 million people and those from South America and Central America increasing by 2.1 million people.

The share of the foreign population from Asia went from more than a quarter to under a third during that time, while the share of African-born went from 4% to 6%.

The report was released as immigration has become a top issue during the 2024 presidential race, with the Biden administration struggling to manage an unprecedented influx of migrants at the Southwest border. Immigration is shaping the elections in a way that could determine control of Congress as Democrats try to outflank Republicans and convince voters they can address problems at the U.S. border with Mexico.

The Census Bureau report didn’t provide estimates on the number of people in the U.S. illegally.

However, the figures show that more than half of the foreign-born are naturalized citizens, with European-born and Asian-born people leading with naturalization rates at around two-thirds of their numbers. Around two-thirds of the foreign-born population came to the U.S. before 2010.

The foreign-born population has grown older in the past dozen years, a reflection of some members’ longevity in the U.S., with the median age increasing five years to 46.7 years. They also became more educated from 2010 to 2022, with the rate of foreign-born people holding at least a high school degree going from more than two-thirds to three-quarters of the population.

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