Did you notice that I didn’t use the word “immigrants”?
The times are such that this word has taken on a negative connotation for a large number of Americans and Europeans.
The USA remains a remarkable country in that it has, since its beginning, attracted new citizens from throughout the world, and continues to do so. Since the subject is currently of higher than usual temperature in Europe and North America, leading to the promulgation of misleading or misinterpreted information, I was delighted to come across a large official database on immigration from the years 1820 through 2013, a span of almost 200 years. (You can download the file from this link, provided by Metrocosm.)
I summarized the data in the following table, and subsidiary tables not displayed, then created several charts to highlight major aspects of the data.
(for a larger view, right click the table-image to get a drop-down menu from which you can open the image in a new tab).
See the Note at the end regarding African immigration.
The greatest impact of immigration on the existing population occurred in the time period 1870 – 1919, when 23 million people arrived from Europe, a number equal to the 21.7% of the population in the United States, 1920. You can review the table to see that, other than the first wave from Europe in 1820 – 1869, the subsequent waves from Europe, ‘North America’ and Asia of were of much lesser magnitude with respect to existing population. [See end note regarding “unauthorized” immigrants]
During the entire 193 years Europe has been the dominant exporter of new citizens to the USA, but this trend is declining. The dominant trend is now emigration from “North America.” This label needs explanation. These are all countries (other than the USA) in the continent, which (officially) includes: Canada, Caribbean, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, ‘Other Caribbean’, ‘Other America’. Here is the detail for these countries.
Here is a broader perspective on these numbers. During the 193 years studied here, around 75% of documented immigrants came from sixteen countries or areas, with more than 60 identified countries and areas comprising the remaining 25%. These are easily seen in the source document.
The two nations Austria and Hungary were once one nation and, over time, were reported/recorded together, then separately. I have combined all three entities for this study. I combined Norway and Sweden for reasons pertaining similarly to Austria-Hungary.
One final chart to increase our perspective:
Depending on one’s point of view, he or she will make conclusions regarding the above data and graphics. I make none, here, but offer the data as a basis for further discussion–which I welcome as responses to this article.
Note Regarding Africa: The official number does not include an estimated 450,000 Africans brought as slaves directly and indirectly to the USA during the times of the slave trade. The first African indentured servants arrived in 1619 in Jamestown (Colony of Virginia), and by the middle of the century the slave trade was firmly established. Congress prohibited the importation of slaves, effective in 1808, but illegal smuggling took place. Slave trade ceased completely sometime during the period between President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 and, finally, with the adoption of the 13th Amendment, 1865. (Source 1, Source 2)
Note Regarding unauthorized immigrants: The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has estimated that 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the United States in January 2012. In 2012, 52% were from Mexico, 15% from Central America, 12% from Asia, 6% from South America, 5% from the Caribbean, and another 5% from Europe and Canada. (Source).