18 May 2013

The Religious Affiliation of U.S. Immigrants (Pew Forum)

Over the past 20 years, the United States has granted permanent residency status to an average of about 1 million immigrants each year. ... U.S. government statistics show that a smaller percentage come from Europe and the Americas than did so 20 years ago, and a growing share now come from Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East-North Africa region. With this geographic shift, it is likely that the religious makeup of legal immigrants also has been changing. ... While Christians continue to make up a majority of legal immigrants to the U.S., the estimated share of new legal permanent residents who are Christian declined from 68% in 1992 to 61% in 2012. Over the same period, the estimated share of green card recipients who belong to religious minorities rose from approximately one-in-five (19%) to one-in-four (25%). This includes growing shares of Muslims (5% in 1992, 10% in 2012) and Hindus (3% in 1992, 7% in 2012). The share of Buddhists, however, is slightly smaller (7% in 1992, 6% in 2012), while the portion of legal immigrants who are religiously unaffiliated (atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular) has remained relatively stable, at about 14% per year.