Paddington Bear is a much-loved children’s character from deepest, darkest Peru. He’s also an illegal immigrant. According to Michael Bond’s classic books, Paddington is an illegal stowaway who entered Britain with no partner or means of supporting himself, then adopted a different identity before staying in the UK indefinitely.

Vision First, an NGO dealing with refugee issues, presents daunting statistics: of the 12,409 people who sought asylum in Hong Kong in the past 21 years, just four succeeded. Despite such enormous odds, about 800 people still flock to the city seeking refuge each year - and that's excluding 1,200 others who claim to have been tortured in their home countries.

"America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room," observed British historian Arnold J. Toynbee. "Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair." And Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca said, "The only things that the United States has given to the world are skyscrapers, jazz, and cocktails." Opinions of America are like bellybuttons — everybody's got one.

Patterns of global migration and remittances have shifted in recent decades, even as both the number of immigrants and the amount of money they send home have grown, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the United Nations and the World Bank. A rising share of international migrants now lives in today’s high-income countries such as the United States and Germany, while a growing share was born in today’s middle-income nations such as India and Mexico, the analysis finds.

November 22, 2013

A poster of King Abdullah II hangs, lopsided, on a peeling white wall over 34 Sudanese men crouched on the floor. Their eyes turn to Mohamedain Suliman as he enters, one hand touching his black beret in greeting. Ahlan wa sahlan. One man steps forward to welcome the 55-year-old, Darfur-born Suliman, who commands respect as the unofficial Sudanese liaison for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the oldest man in the room.

Funny thing about being an American living away from America: It makes you think more about what it means to be an American. But which is the dominant sentiment? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or out of sight, out of mind. The answer depends on a lot of variables. Over the years, various people and projects have explored those variables: the mechanics and meanings of expatriatism.

When chipotle and kimchi abound in the suburbs and Univision co-hosts a presidential debate, it is easy to forget how sudden and extraordinary our ethnic makeover has been. Americans middle-aged or older were born into a country where immigrants seemed to have vanished. As recently as 1970, the immigrant share of the population was at its lowest level on record, and the foreign-born were mostly old and white.