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Before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims

Committee on the Judiciary

U.S. House of Representatives

August 2, 2001

Mr. Chairman, Ms. Jackson Lee, and Members of the Committee:

I want to begin by thanking you for the opportunity to speak with you today about the population of the United States as determined by Census 2000, and the role of international migration in the growth in the Nation's population.

Early Results from Census 2000

In Census 2000, we counted 281.4 million people in the United States. This growth of 32.7 million people during the decade represented a 13.2 percent increase from the 248.7 million people counted during the 1990 Census. The estimated growth in the population between the 1990 and 2000 censuses was the largest numeric increase between any two censuses in our history, and the 13.2 percent growth was much larger than the 9.8 percent growth (an increase of 22.0 million people) between the 1980 and 1990 Censuses.

International Migration

The Census Bureau's estimate of growth in the population during the decade is the result of natural increase (the difference between births and deaths that occur during the time period), and the net change due to international migration. In addition, some of the estimated growth in the population may reflect improvement in census coverage. The change due to international migration includes all types of migration, such as, legal immigration, temporary migration, emigration, unauthorized migration, migration of civilian citizens, and migration from Puerto Rico.

Between the 1990 Census and Census 2000, natural increase accounted for more than half of the growth to the size of the population. Although we do not yet have migration-related data from Census 2000 to quantify the contribution of international migration to population growth exactly, we estimate international migration accounted for most of the remaining growth in the population. Our current assumption of net international migration is about 12 million people during the decade. This assumption is based on the apparent improvement in census coverage of the total population, and data from other sources suggesting an increase in size of the foreign born population.

Alternative Data Sources

Ultimately, we will re-evaluate our assumptions about international migration during the 1990s on the basis of migration-related data from the Census 2000 long form. Prior to the tabulation and release of these data from the long form, we are using other data sets as proxies, for evaluating the size of the foreign-born population. We will use three alternative data sets: the March 2000 Current Population Survey, controlled to reflect the Census 2000 results on age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin; the Census 2000 Supplemental Survey; and preliminary results for nativity data from Census 2000 (citizenship, place of birth, and year of entry).

We intend to use these data sets before the Census 2000 long-form data are ready to release, to evaluate our current assumptions about the principal components of net international migration to the United States, and to evaluate any changes in the quality of data about the foreign-born population between the 1990 Census and Census 2000. Differences between the results from these data sets and the 1990 Census will help explain some of the differences between the results from Census 2000 and our expected population levels.

While waiting for the Census 2000 data on the foreign-born population which will become available later this year, we have been able to analyze one of the other data sets, the March 2000 Current Population Survey controlled to population totals from Census 2000. From these results of the Current Population Survey, we estimate a foreign-born population in 2000 of about 30 million (or 10.9% of the total population). The foreign-born population, as measured by the 1990 Census, was nearly 20 million (or 7.9% of the total population). For historical perspective,the lowest percent foreign born was 4.7 percent in 1970, and the highest was 14.8 percent in 1890.

The 10 million increase in the foreign-born population should not be misinterpreted as the international migration that occurred from 1990 to 2000, which we stated previously was about 12 million. Estimates of change to the foreign-born population between the two censuses were affected by several factors in addition to international migration, including deaths of some foreign-born individuals living in the United States between 1990 and 2000, and improvement in census coverage.

These estimates are subject to revision as we continue our research examining the contribution of international migration to population growth during the last decade. As results from other surveys become available (for example, data from the Census 2000 Supplemental Survey will be released later this month), we will evaluate them for additional information about the foreign-born population in the United States. During the coming year, we will also be re-estimating the population growth of the United States during the last decade and calculating the component of that growth that is due to international migration.

Mr. Chairman, I look forward to additional discussions with you, and other Members of the subcommittee, on this topic once additional data from Census 2000 are available.