Skip to Content

Programs:

Citizenship by the Numbers

Citizenship Day (September 17) is an appropriate time to take stock of the growing number of U.S. citizens who are immigrants to this country—or who are the children of immigrants.  Roughly one-in-seventeen U.S. citizens are foreign-born, and tens of millions of native-born U.S. citizens have immigrant parents.  This demographic reality has important political ramifications.  A rising share of the U.S. electorate has a direct personal connection to the immigrant experience, and is unlikely to be favorably swayed by politicians who employ anti-immigrant rhetoric to mobilize supporters.  This is particularly true among the two fastest-growing groups of voters in the nation: Latinos and Asians.  The majority of Latinos and Asians are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, and they comprised one out of every ten voters in the 2008 election.

More than two-in-five immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • The foreign-born share of the U.S. population rose from 7.9% in 1990, to 11.1% in 2000, to 12.6% in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • There were 38.1 million immigrants living in the United States as of 2007, of whom 42.5% were naturalized U.S. citizens.
  • The number of naturalized U.S. citizens increased from 8 million in 1990, to 12.5 million in 2000, to 16.2 million in 2007 {Figure 1}.

 

  • California was home to the largest number of naturalized U.S. citizens (4.4 million) in 2007, followed by New York (2.2 million), Texas (1.2 million), Florida (1.6 million), and Illinois (773,000) {Figure 2}.

  • Between the elections of 2004 and 2008, roughly 3.6 million immigrants became naturalized U.S. citizens, according to the Office of Immigration Statistics.  More than one million immigrants became naturalized U.S. citizens in FY 2008 alone {Figure 3}.

Three-in-five Latinos are native-born U.S. citizens, while one-in-nine are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • The Latino share of the U.S. population grew from 9% in 1990 to 12.5% in 2000, to 15.1% in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • There were 45.5 million Latinos in the United States in 2007, of whom 11.2% were naturalized U.S. citizens and 60.2% were native-born U.S. citizens.
  • The number of Latino naturalized citizens increased from 2.1 million in 1990, to 4.0 million in 2000, to 5.1 million in 2007 {Figure 4}.
  • The number of Latino native-born citizens increased from 14.4 million in 1990, to 21.1 million in 2000, to 27.4 million in 2007 {Figure 4}.

  • The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that roughly 52% (or 8.2 million) of the nation’s 15.9 million Latino children were the native-born sons and daughters of at least one foreign-born parent as of 2008.

Three-in-eight Asians are naturalized U.S. citizens, while nearly one-third are native-born U.S. citizens.

  • The Asian share of the population grew from 2.8% in 1990, to 3.6% in 2000, to 4.4% in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • There were 13.3 million Asians living in the United States as of 2007, of whom 37.7 % were naturalized U.S. citizens and 31.8% were native-born U.S. citizens.
  • The number of Asian naturalized citizens increased from 1.8 million in 1990, to 3.5 million in 2000, to 5.0 million in 2007 {Figure 5}.
  • The number of Asian native-born citizens increased from 2.4 million in 1990, to 3.2 million in 2000, to 4.2 million in 2007 {Figure 5}.

One-in-ten voters in 2008 were Latino or Asian.

  • The number of Latino voters increased from 7.6 million in 2004 to 9.7 million in 2008—an increase of 28.4%, or 2.2 million {Figure 6}.
  • The number of Asian voters increased from 2.8 million in 2004 to 3.4 million in 2008—an increase of 21.3%, or 589,000 {Figure 6}.

  • In 2008, Latinos accounted for more than one-in-three voters in New Mexico; one-in-five voters in California and Texas; and one-in-seven voters in Florida.
  • Asians accounted for one-in-ten voters in California in 2008.
  • In six of the nine states that went from “red” to “blue” in the 2008 election (Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, New Mexico, and North Carolina), the number of Latino and Asian voters significantly exceeded Barack Obama’s margin of victory over John McCain.
  • 8.6% of all registered voters in 2006 were “New Americans”—naturalized U.S. citizens or the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965—according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by Rob Paral & Associates.

Published On: Wed, Sep 16, 2009 | Download File