2000, the foreign-born population will increase to about 28 million and the percentage will increase to about 10 percent, a ratio still considerably below those of a century ago.

Country and Region of Origin of Immigrants

Our review of the history of immigration legislation indicated that the national origin of immigrants into the United States has experienced large shifts twice: in the period from about 1880 to 1920, immigration from the United Kingdom (including Ireland at that time), France, Germany, the Benelux countries, and the Scandinavian countries decreased and immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe increased. More recently, a greater proportion of immigrants has been originating in Asia and Latin America.

With these recent shifts, the composition of the foreign-born by national origin has changed; Figure 2.5 displays these historical trends. As a companion to this series, Table 2.2 lists the region of origin of the foreign-born population in selected census years from 1850 to 1990. Before the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 changed the national-origin quotas, Europe and Canada were the dominant sources of U.S. immigrants. Almost two-thirds of immigrants during the 1950s came from these areas. The rest were from Asia (6 percent), Mexico (12 percent), and other countries of Latin America (14 percent).

Figure 2.5

Average annual number of legal immigrants into the United States by region of last residence, 1820-1995.

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