July 12, 2005

Legal Immigration Trends

A reader summarizes the government's legal immigration statistics:

Being a statistics nut (like yourself), I have collected all sorts of immigration statistics, including the 2004 figures which just came out (yeah, I look forward to the annual USCIS figures like a kid might Christmas. Okay, maybe not Christmas... Halloween, perhaps.)

However, I must point out one thing... you said that one-quarter of Puerto Ricans have moved to the United States... I think it's more like one-half. Census 2000 found 3.4 million 'Ricans living stateside, with 3.6 million back on the island.

Mexico is of course number one, and in fact appears to have a "special relationship" in that it's not limited to 7% of the family visas every year like every other country is. Legal immigration from Mexico has been at about 200,000; slightly above in 2001 and 2002 but has fallen since; it was about 175,000 in 2004.

Because one is far more likely to move to the U.S. if one is 1) near the U.S., and 2) English-speaking, we have tended to receive a disproportionate number of migrants from nearby anglophone countries. Even Canada sends nearly one-tenth as many LEGAL immigrants to the U.S. every year as Mexico. However, as the birth rates of the anglophone black Caribbean fell from 6 to 2 children per woman, the outflow to the U.S. has definitely slowed. That from Jamaica, the largest, has sunk steadily from 24,000 around 1990 to 14,000 today. I imagine that the anglophone black Caribbean, with its lower birth rates, can no longer sustain a hemorrhage of its earlier magnitude without depleting its population which, in fact, is now threatening many of those countries. (This has also affected Puerto Rico, which like Cuba now has a fertility rate lower than that of non-Hispanic white Americans.)

Surprisingly, immigration from Haiti, which briefly jumped over 20,000 a few years ago, has fallen back to just over 10,000. Because of its soaring population, I expect this short-term drop to reverse eventually, as it has for the Dominican Republic, which after a prior drop in the late 1990's, is now back up to over 30,000.

I have noticed a jump in immigration from South America. Brazil soared over the 10,000 mark for the first time in history last year (in the early 1990's it was in the 4,000 range), and Argentina, Venezuela, and Uruguay showed similar increases. Strangely enough, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru stayed relatively stable... my guess is that much of their outflow was diverted to Spain.

LEGAL immigration from Central American countries (excluding the NACARA amnesty) is actually not all that substantial and has actually been dropping. Perhaps this is because those who would otherwise send for their relatives are being serviced by NACARA, or because Central Americans are no longer even bothering to enter legally, or for whatever reason, the region is not a particularly large source of immigrants anymore. But unlike for other regions, the drop does not mean that immigration from Central America is actually decreasing, except for perhaps Panama and Belize (especially since ILLEGAL migration from the area has been going up). El Salvador currently provides the largest number, but Guatemala will likely catch up and pass it.

I have noted that immigration from Africa has increased steadily since 1986, from less than 20,000, to about 45,000 after the Diversity visa first came out in 1995, to over 60,000 today. I don't know if it's related to the rapid population growth there, or to the DV, or a combination, but the trend in many formerly very slight sources all over the continent (like Uganda, Zambia, and Mali) is a rapid increase. The DV certainly contributed, but it's escalating even when one discounts its effects. (Nigeria, surprisingly, has been about stable, after accounting for the fact that in several years, a lot of Nigeria's immigrants were mistakenly credited to Niger.)

In Asia, the correlation between birth rates and rates of emigration to the U.S. appears to be even stronger. Immigration from the Philippines is rising again, as is that from Cambodia; that from India, Korea and Vietnam seems to be about stable; and that from China, Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong is sinking. Perhaps, the dense population notwithstanding, the fact that most people in their twenties most likely to emigrate now have a much larger share of their parents' property than earlier helps check the need to look elsewhere. Bangladesh is currently increasing, but is still below 10,000; Pakistan is just above that mark after a recent drop. Indonesia, surprisingly enough, is at only 2,400 -- amazing for a country of over 200 million people.

In the Middle East, the trend is for a slight drop in Arab countries but a jump in immigration from Israel to over 4,000 in 2004.

That from Europe is low and relatively stable, and has taken a sharp drop in the last couple of years with the finishing up of the admission of thousands of refugees from Bosnia and the former Soviet Union (who in fact actually moved to the U.S. in the mid and late 1990's). Britain and Poland provide the largest number of immigrants otherwise. The Diversity Visa program, meanwhile, has effects in some Eastern European countries; its most extreme example is the fact that since 1995 it has given about 1 percent of Albania's population legal admission to the U.S.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

No comments: