China overtakes Mexico as nation sending most immigrants to U.S.
Monday, June 1, 2015
Although Asian nations surpassed Latin America as the biggest source of immigrants to the United States a few years ago, for the first time in several decades, Mexico is no longer sending the most immigrants to the U.S. According to a recent Census Bureau report, migration to the U.S. has shifted from Latin America to Asia. The report reveals that the majority of incoming immigrants who arrived in 2013 came from China, toppling Mexico as the leading immigrant-sending nation.
Citing information from the 2013 American Community Survey, that year saw 1.201 million immigrants arrive on American soil, of which 147,000 traveled from China. In fact, with 125,000 immigrants, Mexico did not make even place second on the list. India took the spot with 129,000 immigrants, relegating Mexico to third.
Eric Jensen, a Census Bureau statistician and author of the report, wrote that the shift from Mexico to China was not unexpected but rather part of a trend. Immigration from Latin America has been declining in recent years despite reaching a peak at the turn of the century. In 2012, data from the same survey showed that Mexico and China placed first and second, respectively, as top immigrant-sending nations.
A 2014 report by FiveThirtyEight explained that immigration to the U.S. has begun to shift. Though Latin Americans -- Mexicans in particular -- comprised the largest numbers of incoming immigrants, peaking by the early 2000s, the numbers started falling after economic improvements in Mexico as well as stronger border control. Then, the recession saw the steepest decline.
As the economy improves, immigration from Latin America could surge again but not at the same levels of a decade or two ago. According to the report, this trend has happened before in American history, since the beginning of mass immigration in the mid-19th century.
Latinos continue to be the largest non-white ethnic group in the U.S., but a diminishing number of immigrants means Latinos will play a lesser role in population growth as Asian immigration increases. In an NPR interview, William Frey of the Brookings Institution attributed the shift in Asian immigration to the continued growth in the tech sector.
"We have continued employment opportunities in the United States for people in Asian countries, some in high-tech and engineering," he explained. "Many come here to study in graduate schools and wind up staying here."
After Mexico, the census bureau noted that South Korea, the Philippines and Japan were also among top immigrant-sending countries, reinforcing the strength of the shift to Asia of the largest source of U.S. immigrants.