Resurgence in U.S. Immigration Thanks to Mexican Returns and Highly-Skilled Asian Newcomers
|The United States economy is bouncing back and growing stronger every day, which means the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is looking more and more appealing to immigrants.Although these numbers do not distinguish between authorized and unauthorized immigrants, the Census Bureau reports that the number of foreign-born people in the U.S. grew by 523,400 last year. That number beats the previous year’s net gain of roughly 446,800, and is the biggest official jump since 2006.
The largest pickup in immigration since the recession was lead by Asian newcomers, namely Chinese students and highly-skilled workers from India, and a boost in Hispanic arrivals.
Indian students and engineers are coming to the U.S. in droves, despite strict visa caps. Internet and social media usage are making it easier for them to settle in the U.S. without losing touch with friends and family back home on the other side of the world.
“I never had any kind of culture shock,” said Nidhin Patel, 25, who came to Los Angeles from India a year ago to learn about film direction.
Patel enrolled in a master’s program at California State University, Los Angeles and is studying and teaching on a student visa. He hopes to work in the U.S. once his program ends.
America’s Mexican-born population accounts for the biggest wave of immigration from a single country in U.S. history. However, the recession brought that to a halt, as roughly 1.4 million Mexicans and their children left the U.S. for Mexico between 2005 and 2010, according to think tank Pew Research Center.
Recent years have seen Hispanic immigration slow to a trickle, as the weak job and home-construction markets prompted many workers to return home. Hispanic workers are often less-educated and in the country illegally, so the risk of remaining in the country does not pay off if they cannot find sufficient employment.
“Navigating the immigration process, even for a person who is immediately eligible, remains daunting. The best an immigrating person can seek is complete transparency in the immigration process, which often takes several years,” says Susan Cho, Immigration Lawyer at the law firm of Susan Cho Figenshau, P.C.
However, last year census figures show 27% of new immigrants were Hispanic, compared to about 10% in 2012, and less than 1% in 2011. For the first time in several years, more Mexicans came to the United States than left, which is a notable change after several years of the opposite.
Texas has seen a “real rise” in Hispanic immigrants, as construction work has gained momentum, said Cristina Tzintzún, executive director of the Workers Defense Project, an Austin group that trains and advocates for low-wage workers.
Amarildo González, 27, crossed the Texas border illegally, and found work the day after arriving in Dallas. Back in his native Guatemala, his job picking fruit barely paid enough to support his girlfriend and their three young children — $150 every 15 days. Now he has two jobs, despite his illegal immigration status, in construction and in a furniture store in a mall.
“We are all used to working, since we’re young, for little money,” he said. “When we come here, we find we can make $80 a day.”
This census data shows that six years after the recession began, America is restoring its reputation as a welcome home for those tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The nation remains an economic beacon among immigrants, in spite of other nations growing more attractive.
American businesses can feel confident in the economy’s prospects, if demand for highly-skilled workers grows, and Hispanic immigration revives.