The Foreign-Born Population, the U.S. Economy, and the Federal Budget
Immigration increases total economic output, although not necessarily output per person. It also affects the federal budget through the taxes that foreign-born people pay and the government programs in which they participate.
About 45 million people living in the United States in 2021 were born in other countries. As of 2019, roughly three-quarters of the foreign-born population were here legally. That group includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, refugees, people who were granted asylum, and people who were temporarily admitted for a specific purpose, such as extended work or study. (People visiting the United States for business or pleasure are not included.) The remaining one-quarter were here illegally, having either remained here when their temporary legal status expired or crossed into the United States illegally. The decline in the foreign-born population between 2018 (when it numbered 47 million) and 2021 occurred largely because changes in immigration policy, some in response to the coronavirus pandemic, kept the number of immigrants below the number of foreign-born people leaving the country.