(Im)migration Research

Marymount Ethics Week: Feb 10-14.  Ethics and (Im)migration

Key findings about U.S. immigrants

5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S.

average number of refugees admitted
by the U.S. annually from 2008-2017.

Percentage of Americans who,
in May 2018 Pew survey, said the
U.S. had a responsibility to accept refugees

Approximate percentage of Americans today
who can trace at least one ancestor who
entered through Ellis Island

Four Categories of  Immigration Status in the U.S.

U.S. Citizens

These are people who were either born in the U.S. or who have become “naturalized” after three or five years as permanent residents.

Permanent or Conditional Residents

a) Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) are those who have a “green card”. A green card holder, or lawful permanent resident, is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis.


People who fall into this category are in the country legally, but only on a temporary basis. Examples include: students (F-1 visa), business visitors or tourists (B1/B2 visas),  fiancées (K-1 visa) and individuals granted temporary protected status.


People who are in the country without permission, or illegally, are called undocumented. This means they do not have permission to live in the U.S. They are not authorized to work and they have no access to public benefits like health care or a driver’s license.

The Definition of a “Refugee”

Under U.S. law, a “refugee” is a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin. This definition is based on the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocols relating to the Status of Refugees, which the United States became a party to in 1968. Following the Vietnam War and the U.S. experience resettling Indochinese refugees, Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which incorporated the Convention’s definition into U.S. law and provides the legal basis for today’s U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

Refugee status is granted indefinitely and has no expiration date once the refugee has arrived in the United States. However, refugees are required to apply for permanent resident status (a green card) a year after living in the U.S.

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