New Study Reveals Changing Face of America

Almost from its inception, the immigrants who helped to build the United States have hailed from nearly every corner of the globe. The first wave of immigrants mostly came from Northern and Western Europe; later, they traveled here from Southern and Eastern Europe. In recent years, Latin America has sent the most immigrants to our nation. But a new study compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that once again, the flow of immigration into our nation is changing.

The study used data collected from 2000 through 2013 by the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, a statistical sampling of the U.S. population that is compiled annually. It reveals that, while people from Latin America and Mexico, in particular, are still the dominant immigrant population in the nation, the country that is sending the largest number of immigrants to the United States is now China. In 2013, 147,000 Chinese nationals came to the United States. Not surprisingly, coming in at a close second was India, which sent 129,000 to the U.S. And, while the number of Chinese and Indian nationals coming to America has increased, the number of Mexican nationals immigrating here has been steadily declining. [See China Passes Mexico As The Top Source Of New U.S. Immigrants, by Neil Shah, The Wall Street Journal, 01.May.2015.]

Several factors have been attributed to the decline in immigration from Latin America, including lower birthrates and an improved economy. William Frey, who works for the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and policy innovations, explained in a recent NPR interview that “we have continued employment opportunities in the United States for people in Asian countries, some in high-tech and engineering. Many come here to study in graduate school and wind up staying here. On the other hand, a lot of the kinds of low-wage jobs that attracted people from Mexico and other Latin American countries to the United States have dried up due to the Great Recession and word is getting out.” [See China, India Surpass Mexico as Leading Sources of New Immigrants to the U.S., by Richard Gonzales, NPR, 07.May.2015.]

Perhaps the most interesting outcome of the study is the prediction that a racial majority will cease to exist in the United States by the year 2044. Instead, our nation will become a vast “melting pot” comprised of a myriad of racial minorities. If this is true, then there are even larger implications to the data released by the Census Bureau than a mere shift in immigration trends. It would seem that our identity as a nation is evolving before our very eyes. The next generation of Americans is on track to experience a level of diversity never before seen in our country’s history. For centuries, immigration has ushered into our nation a boundless array of perspectives, experiences, and talent. Now, the rich diversity that is the very core of the United States is poised to permeate American life and popular culture.


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