37 Maps That Prove That America Is A Nation Of Immigrants

Relevant again as our executive branch continues to crack down on immigration.

#1 We’re All Immigrants

Image Source  Census

This map shows what each county’s residents cited as the country of their ancestry.

  • In Appalachia most people say that their ancestry is American.
  • The number of people saying that their ancestry is American doubled from 1990 to 2000.
  • Even though America has existed for over 200 years, people still identify their ancestry according to the countries their families lived in before immigrating to the United States.

#2 The Very First American Migration

Image Via Plos

This map shows the first ever migration that happened 20-30 thousand years ago. The first immigrants came from Beringia, the land that is now the Bering Strait, which is the body of water between Russia and Alaska.

  • Scientists are still uncertain when and how many people came to America.
  • This map is made according to the results of mitochondrial DNA analysis.
  • The first group of immigrants came from Asia and lived in Beringia for some time. After populating America, a portion of them returned to Asia.

#3 America Has More Immigrants Than Any Other Country

Image Via Worldmapper

In this map, each country’s size is distorted to show the size of their immigrant population.

  • Most of the first Americans died due to the spreading of the European diseases to which they had no immunity.
  • 19.8 percent of the world’s international immigrants live in the United States.

#4 The US Is Not As Open To New Immigrants As Some Of The Other Countries Are

Image Via OECD

This is the statistic that shows the percentage of each country’s population that is made up of immigrants.

  • It’s easy for small countries to outrank the United States since they have fewer residents.
  • There are a few medium-sized countries that outrank the United States.

#5 How Immigration To America Has Changed

Pew Research Center
Image Via Pew Research Center

This map shows which country was the America’s top immigrant source in the past.
From World War I to 1965, immigration laws were designed to preserve the white majority in the United States.

  • Each country was given a certain quota of immigrants who could come to United States every year. These quotas were based on who’s been in the country in the 1890s.
  • There were laws that prevented Asians from coming to United States.

#6 The Danish Utahns And Other Immigrant Enclaves

vox gif immigration
Image via gifamerica.com

This map tracks all the immigrants from different countries and where have they settled in the United States.

  • The Danish population in Utah is the result of Danish conversion to the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
  • Some ancestry groups can be found in interesting places.

#7 Forced Migration

Image Via David Eltis and David Richardson/Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Yale University Press

Here we can see that millions of immigrants were forced to America from Africa during two centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

  • The value of all slaves in 1860 surpassed the value of all currency in the United States. Seven times more to be exact.
  • Slaves had no rights to become citizens, have families, or build their wealth.

#8 The First Illegal Migration To United States

Image Via David Eltis and David Richardson/Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Yale University Press

Even though The Constitution banned the trafficking of slaves into the United States after 1809 black market slave trading continued until the Civil War.

  • One and a half million Africans were brought to Americas after slave trading was banned.
  • Those people were the first to come into the United States illegally.

#9 Modern-Day Forced Migration

Image Via Vox

Although human trafficking is not condoned or legal today there are still people who got into the United States that way.

Seventy-one percent of trafficking victims have their visas but are legally connected to their employer. If they manage to escape their traffickers they would lose their legal status, so they can’t connect with law enforcement. What makes this worse is that law officers often fail to recognize these victims and sometimes even collaborate with the traffickers.

#10 The Statue Of Liberty Is The Most Famous Immigrant In The United States

Image Via Library of Congress
  • The Statue of Liberty was designed and cast in copper in France.
  • It took several months for Americans to finish the pedestal for the statue.
  • The statue was shipped in 350 separate pieces that were housed in 214 crates.

#11 A Detailed Map Of Immigrants From 1903

Image Via Michigan State University

There are 51 ideographics on this map. The right column shows the number of immigrants that settled in the state each year. The left column shows their occupation. The top part depicts the ethnic mix color coded by race.

Back then there racial discrimination was still present. For example, Slavic races were considered to be physically and mentally weaker than Celtic and Teutonic immigrants.

#12 How Charities Helped Immigrants Become American

Image Via: Florence Kelley

In 1890 most of Chicago’s urban poor were immigrants and made up 77 percent of the city’s population.

  • Hull House organization, founded by Jane Addams, set the template for charity in America.
  • Hull House organization were focused on teaching English, civics, and other helpful skills to help the immigrants assimilate.

#13 Are Today’s Immigrants Less Americanized?

Image Via Claude S. Fischer, Mike Hout, Aliya Saperstein

In short, no. Today’s immigrants are more likely to know English or learn it faster than their forerunners. Latino immigrants, who fall behind other immigrants in their English knowledge, still perform better than the European immigrants of the 1880s.

#14 The Grandchildren Of Today’s Latino Immigrants Barely Speak Spanish

Image Via Pew Hispanic Trends Project
  • Second-generation Latinos tend to be fully bilingual, even though they speak Spanish with their siblings.
  • Third generation Latinos mostly speak English.
  • The share of immigrants that speak mostly English is bigger than the share of Latinos who are bilingual in the third generation.

#15 Midwest Wouldn’t Be So Populated If It Wasn’t For Immigrants

Image Via Pew Charitable Trusts

Americans are leaving Middle America and the only people who are moving in are immigrants.

  • Metro areas here grew mostly because of the immigrant population. This adds up to 50 percent of the total growth in some areas.
  • New waves of immigrants are making these areas demographically younger.

#16 Two Hundred Years Of immigration In One Gorgeous Visual

Image Via Natalia Bronshtein

Mexico is widely presumed as a main source of immigrants to the United States. Here we can see that this is not the case. Click here for an interactive version.

#17 The 1920s Immigration Law

Image Via The New York Times
Image Via The New York Times

The quota laws were passed in the early 1920s were based on the immigration laws from 1890. These maps show the effects of the primary quota law: The National Origin Act of 1924.

  • The first map shows the annual immigration before passing of the law. The second one shows the annual immigration after.
  • Politicians were afraid that some of the immigrants from Eastern Europe were genetically inferior and would compromise the Americans’ quality of life.

#18 How America Began To Rely On Mexican Labor

Image Via Smithsonian Institution

After World War II there were labor shortages so America had to rely on Mexico for seasonal labor. This program was called “The Bracero Program”. “Bracero” means manual laborer in Spanish.

  • Two million braceros who came to America in the period from 1942 to 1964 migrated from all over Mexico to most of United States.
  • Most of these workers worked in agriculture under inhumane conditions.
  • The government sent 10 percent of their paychecks back to Mexico. This was the government’s way of preventing Mexicans from settling in the United States. When they returned they discovered that their money never made it to Mexico.

#19 America’s Only Been A Global Destination For The Past 50 Years

Image Via Migration Policy Institute

The modern era of immigration to America began in 1965 when the restrictions of the National Origins Act were replaced by the Immigration and Nationality Act. Immigration to America soon became a global phenomenon after that.

#20 Legal Immigration Explained

Image Via Mike Flynn, Shikha Dalmia, Terry Colon/Reason Magazine

Even though there are numerous ways to come to the United States legally, the vast majority of people who want to do so aren’t eligible to become permanent residents. There are too many qualified applicants for most available visas. This chart can explain who can apply for a green card and how much they would have to wait to get one.

#21 The Era Of Unauthorized Immigration: 1996–2006

Image Via Vox

In 1996 the economy was booming and laws made it harder for unauthorized immigrants to become legal.

  • The line graph shows how many immigrants entered the country illegally each year.
  • The bar chart shows the estimated number of illegal immigrants living in the United States at the time.

#22 Some Americans Are Afraid Of Immigrants Because They Overestimate Their Numbers

Image Via Quartz

Most Americans assume that most Latinos are immigrants which makes them overestimate the number of real immigrants.

#23 America’s First Single-Issue Party Was Anti-Immigrant

Image Via Wikimedia

The American Party of the 1840s and 1850s was often called the “Know-Nothing Party.” The leading Know-Nothing in Congress, Lewis Charles Levin of Pennsylvania, was also the first Jewish member of the US Congress.

American nativists have usually been more afraid of some kinds of immigrants than others — and one way for an immigrant to assimilate into American life is to play the “good immigrant,” attacking the bad ones.

#24 Louisville Riots

Image Via The Public I

In 1855, the Know-Nothing Party took over politics in Louisville, Kentucky. Before a local election the Know-Nothings paraded with torches through the city. There were rumors that an Irishmen had killed a Know-Nothing which caused rioting in the Irish and German sections of town.

Over twenty people got killed. The rioters looted the Armbruster’s brewery and got so drunk that they only managed to torch the building and pass out.

#25 An 1885 “Vice Map” Of San Francisco’s Chinatown

Image Via Vox

In 1882 the first immigration restrictions were passed. This was known as the Chinese Exclusion Act and it created a market in human smuggling and trafficking.

On this map we can see that the brothels were marked in green since most of the trafficking victims were women. This information only led to more prejudices against the immigrant community.

#26 Fears Of An Immigrant “Fifth Column” Bought Into Nazi Propaganda

Image Via Karl Gotz

American nativists were often afraid that immigrants would be more loyal to their native countries. This map was created as Nazi propaganda to exploit those fears.

It sent the message that the 20 million German Americans could stand with their homeland even though some of them lived in the United States for generations. This fear was groundless as The United States never had a substantial Nazi-sympathizer movement.

#27 Japanese Internment Camps

Image Via All Aboard Magazine

During the World War II President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered 120,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps in the western United States. This ended in 1944 when Japan surrendered to the United States.

This also happened to several thousand German and Italian Americans, too. Many of Japanese internees lost their homes even though no Japanese American was ever found guilty of espionage.

#28 Langston Hughes’ Doodles Turn A Pro-immigrant Map Into An Anti-Jim Crow One

Image Via Emma Bourne/Council Against Intolerance In America

The Council Against Intolerance made this map to show that diversity itself is what makes America strong. This map belonged to social activist Langston Hughes who added a couple of his own illustrations to it.

#29 The United States Border

Image Via ACLU

What is classified as the United States border may come as a surprise. This area covers a 100-mile radius around the United states and covers approximately two-thirds of the nation’s population.

This allows the government to set up checkpoints within the country so it can track down unauthorized migration and smuggling. Border patrol officers even boarded buses in upstate buses in upstate New York and asked passengers for IDs and responded to police calls in Forks, Washington.

#30 Border Security Increase

Image Via Vox

The number of Border Patrol agents quadrupled from 1995 to 2014. The militarization of the border is concentrated on the areas where people are most likely to cross.

  • This was done to make it harder for unauthorized immigrants to come into the United States but it also made it harder for them to leave.
  • Since people couldn’t visit their families at home they decided to move their families to the United States so the unauthorized population grew, and settled.

#31 A Map That Depicts The Death Of Immigrants Who Tried To Cross The Border

Image Via Arizona OpenGIS Initiative for Deceased Migrants

Many immigrants chose this dangerous route because they wanted to evade the border patrol. Some of them even died trying.

Some citizen groups tried to make it easier for them to cross the border by providing water stations but faced charges for trying to encourage people to come to the United States. There were 2,187 deaths in Arizona alone from 2001 to 2014.

#32 La Bestia

Image Via El Informador

La Bestia, which means “The Beast” in Spanish, is a network of freight trains commonly used by migrants to quickly traverse the length of Mexico.

  • It is estimated that 400,000 to 500,000 migrants try to reach the United States riding atop these trains.
  • The Mexican government will try to increase the speeds of these trains so that it will be harder for stowaways to board trains. It’s questionable if this will prevent the desperate migrants from doing so.

#33 The Maps You Need To Understand The 2014 “Border Crisis”

Image Via Diego Valle-Jones


Image Via Diego Valle-Jones

People make decisions to migrate based on two types of reasons: “push factors” that lead them to leave their country of origin; and “pull factors” that lead them to come to one new country in particular.

  • In the first map we can see the number of unaccompanied alien children by their location of origin.
  • The second map explains their reasons for coming to the United States. This map shows the homicide rates from police sources in the Mexican states that border Guatemala and Belize.

#34 Immigrants Come From Everywhere

Image Via Migration Policy Institute

Since 1965, immigration to the United States has become a truly global phenomenon. It’s one thing to know that, but it’s another thing to see it in front of you.

#35 Remittances: The Foreign Aid Program Bigger Than Foreign Aid

Image Via Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends Project
Many immigrants send money home to support their families that stayed home.
  • In 2012 this added up to $51 billion in remittances. Just to compare, the US government’s foreign aid budget was $39 billion that year.
  • On this map you can notice that large portion of remittances go to the poorest countries and not necessarily ones with the most emigrants in the United States.

#36 The Hidden Diversity Of America’s Immigrants

Image Via Andy Kiersz/Business Insider
  • We already pointed out that most Americans consider Latinos as a stereotypical face of immigration to America.
  • This map of New York city shows the most popular language that isn’t English or Spanish. As you can see, New York has dozens of different immigrant communities.

#37 The Twin Cities Of El Paso And Ciudad Juarez

Image Via Jesse Allen/NASA

Juarez is a global crime capital, while its twin city El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States.

  • This colorized NASA photo shows buildings in gray and vegetation in red.
  • In 2011, 14,000 people crossed one footbridge between the two cities on a daily basis.
  • It takes tracing the Rio Grande to tell where Mexico ends and America begins

Featured Image Via Pinterest