One of the more interesting developments in U.S. immigration over the past few years is that Asians have overtaken Hispanics as the country's largest immigrant population.
Using percentage of foreign-born annual arrivals, the Pew Research Center reported that in the last three years Asia has became the top source of immigrants. 430,000 Asians came to the U.S. in 2010, a number that represents 36 percent of all new legal and illegal immigrants. In the same year there were 370,000 new Hispanics arrivals.
A recent article in Forbes detailed some of the reasons we have seen the shift. High growth rates in Asian countries, along with economic conditions in the U.S. and Mexico/Central America have combined to move the groups in opposite directions.
Forbes points out that China, India and the Philippines have sent almost 2 million immigrants to the U.S. over the past decade. As populations expand in those fast-growing countries, more citizens have the financial means to seek their fortune overseas.
In addition, U.S. economic woes have impacted the kinds of industries that typically attract Hispanic immigrants. Simultaneously Mexico and some Central American countries have seen economic improvement, meaning citizens have less impetus for heading north. A higher number of deportations and an increase in border enforcement were also cited as factors.
It's important to note some of the characteristics of Asian immigration. For the most part it is an educated, skilled workforce. Asian-Americans families generally earn more than the average American (66K vs 45K). And almost half have college degrees, a percentage that is nearly double that of the average American.
In part because of the expense of traveling illegally from certain Asian countries, there are a lower percentage of undocumented Asian immigrants.
Pew also found that Asians-Americans are more likely than the average American to emphasize family responsibility, with a higher percentage living in multi-generational households. 54 percent of Asians surveyed said a successful marriage was one of the most important goals in their life. That number was just 34 among all Americans polled.