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Is U.S. Immigration Law Racist?


An individual located in the Midwest who has a master’s degree, and is working towards a doctoral degree made the following assertions on her web site:

* The United States promotes and fosters immigration from nations that are mostly composed of white Europeans.
* The United States attempts to cap immigration from Hispanic nations and nations that are majority non-white.

If one educated person has these misconceptions, then many others may share it. In fact, I encountered a similar viewpoint in a conversation with a professor from a prestigious university. He said it is “impossible” for somebody to emigrate to the United States from Mexico. Such a misunderstanding may explain why some people support amnesty - they feel the need to correct “racist” U.S. immigration policy.

For these reasons, it is important to communicate the facts about United States immigration law and policy. On average, more than 34 percent of the green cards issued are to people from Hispanic nations, yet Hispanic nations only constitute 6 percent of the world’s population. Mexico alone received more than 17 percent of the green cards issued between 1999-2008, while Mexico constitutes only about 2 percent of the world’s population.

Green Card Summary
(Click on chart for larger view)

Source: Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, 2008 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, Table 3

Approximately 16 percent of the green cards the United States grants are to non-Hispanic whites (Caucasians). But that means almost all the rest, 84 percent of the yearly green cards, go to “people of color”:

Region or Country of birth Average 1999-2008
Green Cards Issued Per Year 981,340
Europe 138,558
subtract Spain -1,454
Canada 16,355
Australia 2,438
New Zealand 1,015
Total Probable non-Hispanic Caucasians 156,912
As % of Green Cards Issued 16.0%
Africa 71,315
As % of Green Cards Issued 7.3%
Asia 332,004
As % of Green Cards Issued 33.8%

Source: Department of Homeland Security, 2008 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, Table 3

Approximately 16 percent of the green cards that the United States grants are to “non-Hispanic whites (Caucasians)” while this group represents approximately 11.3 percent of the world population. So it would seem that the immigration law and policy is very slightly favorable to non-hispanic whites. But the strong criticisms of the Midwesterner noted above are simply not valid.

Approximate World Population of Non-Hispanic Caucasians, 2009
European Union minus Spain: 451,241,000
Armenia 2,981,000
Azerbaijan 7,912,000
Georgia 4,677,000
Croatia 4,489,000
Macedonia 2,057,000
Russia 140,041,000
Ukraine 45,700,000
Switzerland 7,600,000
Norway 4,660,000
Belarus 9,647,000
Moldova 4,321,000
Kosovo 1,804,000
Serbia 7,379,000
Montenegro 672,000
Albania 3,639,000
Canada 33,497,000
Australia 21,263,000
New Zealand 4,213,000
Total: 757,793,000
Population of World, 2009 6,700,000,000
Source: CIA World Factbook


Africans receive 7.3 percent of the green cards, yet they make up almost 15 percent of the world’s population. Asians receive 33.8 percent of the green cards, yet they make up almost 60 percent of the world’s population.

Population of Africa 1,000,000,000 14.9% of world
Population of Asia 4,000,000,000 59.7% of world
Source: United Nations Populations Division


If the U.S. sought to avoid ethnic bias by distributing green cards based on the worldwide numbers of different ethnic populations, it would drastically cut the percentage of green cards awarded to Hispanics, slightly decrease the percentage awarded to Europeans, and increase the percentage awarded to Asians and Africans.

We already had many unemployed and underemployed people in this country, even when the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent. The population of the United States is already projected to rise 44 percent by the year 2050 - the highest rate of increase in the developed world.1 The solution for nations experiencing a high rate of exit is to improve their conditions so that people do not desire to leave home, and the United States should help. That said, the United States should take its fair share of genuine refugees, and NumbersUSA Executive Director Roy Beck has said this publicly.

At the beginning of this blog, I laid out one person’s perception that United States immigration policy is racist. That view of our immigration policy is mistaken. It surprised me that an educated person would have such a view. I am afraid that many other people have this misconception, and it might be a reason some are in favor of amnesty.

CHARLES BREITERMAN is a Lawyer and Research Analyst for NumbersUSA

1Population Reference Bureau, 2008 World Population Data Sheet, chart on pages 7-10, compare column 1 to column 7 for developed world countries. This fact was pointed out to me by Professor Thomas Tharp of Purdue University.

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