An immigrant puts his hand over his heart during a citizenship ceremony in Jersey City, N.J., this month. (Julio Cortez / AP)

The immigration of 59 million people to the United States since 1965, when Congress ended quotas that overwhelmingly favored Northern Europeans, has more than quadrupled the number of immigrants in the country.

The New York Times reports:

Since the Immigration and Nationality Act was passed in 1965, immigration has been the major driver of the country’s growth, with new immigrants, their children and grandchildren accounting for 55 percent of the increase, the report found.

A shift in priorities in the law brought major changes in flows of immigrants and the makeup of the nation, Pew researchers found. Whereas in 1965 most immigrants came from Europe, since then about half of all immigrants have come from Latin America, with one country, Mexico, sending by far the most people. About 16 million immigrants came from Mexico in the last five decades, or about 28 percent of all newcomers.

Arrivals from Europe, the main source of immigrants for most of the nation’s history, now make up 10 percent of new foreign-born residents.

But according to the report, since 2011 there has been another significant shift, with people from Asia — mainly India and China — now surpassing the numbers from Latin America. The change is striking because Chinese and most other Asian immigrants were barred from coming to live in the United States for many years in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

… The new system opened legal immigration to people from all countries, putting the top priority on bringing in family members of people living in the United States, especially American citizens, while also seeking to draw foreigners with desirable work skills.

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— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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