The Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2010

May 2012
Report Number: ACS-19
Elizabeth M. Grieco, Yesenia D. Acosta, G. Patricia de la Cruz, Christine Gambino, Thomas Gryn, Luke J. Larsen, Edward N. Trevelyan, and Nathan P. Walters



This report presents a portrait of the foreign-born population in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau uses the term foreign born to refer to anyone who is not a U.S. citizen at birth. This includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, temporary migrants (such as foreign students), humanitarian migrants (such as refugees), and undocumented migrants. The term native born refers to anyone born in the United States, Puerto Rico, or a U.S. Island Area, or those born abroad of at least one U.S. citizen parent.

Information on the demographic, social, economic, and housing characteristics presented in this report is based on data from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS).

In this report, data on the foreign born are presented by broad region of birth, including Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern America, and Oceania. More detail is shown for Latin America and the
Caribbean—including Mexico, Other Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. For this report, the category Other Central America excludes Mexico but includes the remaining countries of Central America.3 In the graphs displaying information by nativity and place of birth, data on the total, native, and foreign-born populations as well as the regions of birth are shown in light green, while the areas within Latin America are shown in light blue.

Data are shown for population (e.g., age, marital status, occupation) and household (e.g., size, type, income) characteristics. A household is a person or a group of people who occupy a housing unit as their current residence. College residence halls, military barracks, correctional facilities, and other group quarters are not included. A householder is usually the person, or one of the people, in whose name the home is owned, being bought, or rented. A family household consists of a householder and one or more people living together in the same household who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. It may also include people unrelated to the householder. The nativity status and place of birth of a household are determined by the nativity status and place of birth of the householder. A household with a foreign-born householder may also contain native residents, and a household with a native householder may also contain foreign-born residents.

The 2010 ACS estimated the number of foreign born in the United States to be nearly 40 million, or 13 percent of
the total population (Table 1).

The foreign-born population from Latin America was the largest region-of-birth group, accounting for over half (53 percent) of all foreign born (Table 2). By comparison, 28 percent of the foreign born were born in Asia, 12 percent in Europe, 4 percent in Africa, 2 percent in Northern America, and less than 1 percent in Oceania. Among the 21.2 million foreign born from Latin America, 11.7 million, or over half (55 percent), were born in Mexico. Of the total foreign-born population, 29 percent were born in Mexico.

February 2012
February 2013