You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

The big surge in immigration is from Asia, not Latin America.

Alex Wong/Getty

A Brookings Institution analysis of new data from the Census Bureau shows that the percentage of American residents born outside the country is now 13.7%, which is higher than any point since 1910. Further, there has been a shift in this population since 2010, with most new immigrants now coming from Asia rather than, as in previous decades, from Latin America.

William Frey, who conducted the study for the Brookings Institution, told The New York Times that the findings were a surprise. “This is quite different from what we had thought,” Frey notes. “We think of immigrants as being low-skilled workers from Latin America, but for recent arrivals that’s much less the case. People from Asia have overtaken people from Latin America.”

The new wave of immigrants is more widely dispersed than earlier waves, with states like Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky seeing a double-digit increase in the percentage of the foreign born population. Moreover, as the Times notes, the new wave of immigrants tends to be better educated than the native born population:

In Ohio, for example, 43 percent of the foreign-born population is college educated, compared with just 27 percent of American-born Ohioans. About 43 percent of the foreign-born population is from Asia, far more than the 20 percent from Latin America.

The same can be true in states with large immigrant populations. About 15 percent of the population of Maryland last year was foreign-born. Of those people, 42 percent had college degrees, compared with 39 percent of American-born Marylanders.

All of this suggests that the current political battle on immigration as led by President Donald Trump, which focused on issues like the Mexican border wall and family separation at the border, is out of touch with the actual nature of current immigration.