Immigrants coming, and immigrants going: 40 years by the numbers

Immigrants coming, and immigrants going: 40 years by the numbers

If there’s one trend in immigration over the past 40 years, it’s been that there is more of it.

Our recent analysis of immigration data found that there are more foreign-born people in Chicago, more foreign language speakers, and more people deported.

And with the change in population, it’s no surprise that this has been the case.

The foreign-born population took a big jump after the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which removed racial quotas for immigration. The number of people who were born outside the U.S. grew from 9.6 million in 1970 to nearly 40 million in 2010.

More new Americans

In Chicago, this is what the changes have looked like:

Foreign born on the rise

And with them has come a bigger diversity of languages.

Native Tongues

But not all of the trends have more immigrants coming to Chicago.

There are about 11.1 million undocumented people living in the U.S., according to a 2012 report by the Pew Hispanic Center.

And for the past two years, the number of people deported has hit record highs. In 2011, 396,906 people were deported. And in 2012, 409,849 people were deported, making it the largest number of people deported in one year so far.


U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez told The Chicago Reporter that in the past 40 years he has seen the immigration issue become increasingly politicized.

“As Latinos in the ‘70s, there was never a sense that we needed to go out and help those who were undocumented or even challenge ourselves to do better with that part of our community,” Gutierrez said.

Now, he says, a decades of protests, and punitive immigration legislation, has inspired people of all backgrounds to fight for comprehensive immigration reform.

“We’re going to have it because people in the street are going to demand it,” he said.

Read more about the activism behind the numbers in our 40th anniversary issue.

Photo credit: Anuska Sampedro


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