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The modern immigration wave has brought 59 million to the United States.

Pew report: Immigrants will drive U.S. population growth in next 50 years

Fifty years after the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, nearly 59 million immigrants have arrived in the United States, pushing the country's foreign-born share to a near-record 14 percent says an in-depth report released Monday by the Pew Research Center.

Still, the percentage of the total U.S. population born outside this country was higher in 1890 than it is today. At that time, nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born. By 1965, that number fell to 5 percent. Today, about 14 percent of the country's population was born elsewhere. Come 2065, however, Pew projects that figure will hit a new high of nearly 18 percent.

The report, "Modern Immigration Wave Brings 59 Million to U.S., Driving Population Growth and Change Through 2065," shows that if current demographic trends continue, future immigrants and their descendants will be an even bigger source of population growth. Between 2015 and 2065, they are projected to account for 88 percent of the United States population increase, or 103 million people, as the nation grows to 441 million.

"This most recent period really does reflect the notion that the United States is a nation built on immigration and has been able to absorb many immigrants from different parts of the world," said Mark Hugo Lopez, the director of Hispanic research at the Pew Center.

The immigration report says Asians are on pace to overtake Latinos among U.S. immigrants. Already, Asian Americans make up about 6 percent of the nation's population, up from just 1 percent in 1965. By the middle of the century, they will total 14 percent, the projections say.

Pew researchers analyzed a combination of Census Bureau information and its own data to develop its projections. For its report, which takes a 100-year look at U.S. immigration, Pew analyzed census data, population projections and conducted a survey that collected opinions on immigrants. The bilingual online survey of 3,147 adults was conducted from March 10 to April 6 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percent.

According to the report, by 2065, no racial or ethnic group will hold a majority in the United States. Whites will make up 46 percent of the population, Hispanics will be at 24 percent, Asians at 14 percent, and blacks at 13 percent.

Currently, the country is 62 percent white, 18 percent Hispanic, 12 percent black and 6 percent Asian.

Though Hispanics make up 47 percent of immigrants living in the United States, immigration from Latin America has slowed. "There are relatively fewer people who would choose to migrate from Mexico so demographic changes in Mexico have led to a somewhat smaller pool of potential migrants," Lopez said. "At the same time, we've seen a growing number of immigrants, particularly from China or India, who are coming for reasons such as pursuing a college degree or coming here to work temporarily in the high-tech sector."

Overall, the number of newly arrived immigrants peaked in the early 2000s: Some 8 million residents of other countries came to the U.S. between 2000 and 2005. The number of recent arrivals declined after that, to about 6 million for the years 2008 to 2013, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of federal government data.

The report also uses newly released survey data to examine U.S. public attitudes toward immigration, and employs census data to analyze changes in the characteristics of recently arrived immigrants and paint a statistical portrait of the historical and 2013 foreign-born populations.

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