Immigration from Latin America has dropped so precipitously that Asians now outnumber Hispanics among new arrivals in the United States, a new study shows.
The switchover has been in place since at least 2009, according to the Pew Research Center, and is primarily the result of plunging immigration from Mexico, the birthplace of more U.S. immigrants than any other country. This year, Pew said more Mexicans may be leaving the United States than arriving for the first time since the Great Depression, due to weakness in the U.S. job market, a rise in deportation and a decline in Mexico’s birthrate.
At the same time, the number of Asian immigrants has held steady or increased slightly. Pew’s analysis of census data estimated that 430,000 Asian immigrants came to the United States in 2010, making up 36 percent of all new immigrants, compared with 31 percent who were Hispanic.
The reversal is a reminder of how the recession and an uneven recovery have altered not only how people live but, to a degree, who lives in the United States. Demographers and immigration analysts cautioned that the two largest and fastest-growing groups may eventually switch places again when the economy grows robust. But in the meantime, the about-face has the potential to tweak perceptions of immigrants and their role in society.