During the last 50 years, the number of foreign born from Latin America and the Caribbean has increased rapidly, from less than 1 million in 1960 to 21.2 million in 2010.1 Currently, the foreign born from Latin America represent over half of the total foreign-born population. This brief will discuss the size, place of birth, citizenship status, and geographic distribution of the foreign born from Latin America in the United States. It presents data on the foreign born from Latin America at the national and state levels based on the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS).
In 2010, 309.3 million people lived in the United States, including 40.0 million foreign born (13 percent of the total population). In 2000, 31.1 million of the 281.4 million U.S. residents were foreign born—11 percent of the total population.2 Over the decade, the foreign-born population increased by 8.8 million.
Over half (53 percent) of all foreign-born U.S. residents in 2010 were from Latin America (Table 1). Another 28 percent were from Asia. The next largest world region-of-birth group, the foreign born from Europe, represented 12 percent of all foreign born—less than half the size of the foreign born from Asia. About 4 percent of the foreign born were born in Africa and 3 percent were from other regions, including Oceania and Northern America. The single largest country-of-birth group was from Mexico (29 percent of all foreign born).
1 The term Latin America and the Caribbean includes countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Central America includes Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. South America includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Caribbean includes Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, the former country of Guadeloupe (including St. Barthélemy and Saint-Martin), Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, the former country of the Netherlands Antilles (including Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten), St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands. Note that people born in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are native born to the United States and are not included in the list of countries in the Caribbean. Throughout the remainder of this report, the term Latin America refers to all of these areas.
2 Gibson, Campbell and Kay Jung. 2006. “Historical Census Statistics on the Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 1850 to 2000.” U.S. Census Bureau: Population Division Working Paper, Number 81 available on the Census Bureau’s Web site at <www.census.gov/library/working-papers/2006/demo/POP-twps0081.html>.