Indians Now Third-largest Immigrant Group in U.S.

 Indians Now Third-largest Immigrant Group in U.S.

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A new report by a leading Washington, D.C.-based think tank reveals that the number of Indian immigrants has surpassed those from China and Hong Kong for the first time since data has been collected in 1960. Around 1.6 million foreign born Indians now reside in the United States, which makes them the third-largest immigrant group behind Mexicans and Filipinos.

The study, by the Migration Policy Institute, is based on the statistics provided by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey and 2000 Census, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics for 2008 and 2009, one of the study’s authors, Aaron Terrazas, told India-West.

The study also shows that the current global recession has not affected Indian immigration as negatively as it has other groups, said Terrazas, who co-authored the study with Cristina Batog.

“The avenue of entry for Indians is often employment- or family-based,” Terrazas told India-West. “Or they are skilled temp workers or students, who have turned permanent residents. Half of Mexicans are here illegally, which influences where they work in the U.S. economy — at the lower end of the economic spectrum.”

The detailed study, which can be viewed online, shows that of the 2.3 million members of the Indian diaspora residing in the U.S. in 2008, 66.4 percent were born in India, including individuals born in India to at least one parent who was a native-born U.S. citizen. One-fifth (20.0 percent) were U.S. citizens at birth.

The study demonstrates that Indians are heavily concentrated in California and New Jersey. California had the largest number of Indian immigrants (303,497, or 18.7 percent of the Indian-born population) in 2008, followed by New Jersey (187,732, or 11. 6 per cent) and New York (141,738, or 8.7 per cent).

Within California, the Indian population was spread out between the San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley and Southern California, unlike in the more concentrated New York/New Jersey region.

The New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island region was the metropolitan area with the largest number of Indian born residents (277,401, or 17.1 percent) in 2008, followed by Chicago-Naperville-Joliet (116,395, or 7.2 percent); San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (78,001, or 4.8 percent); Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (67,340, or 4.2 percent); and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana (66,125 or 4.1 percent).

Interestingly, between 2000 and 2008, the size of the Indian immigrant population more than doubled in 10 states, including Montana, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Washington and the District of Columbia. “The data suggest a growing Indian immigrant presence in the Mountain West,” reads the report.

Terrazas explained that the figures come from a relatively new Census system that uses a smaller sample but is believed to be more accurate than the decennial U.S. Census. In 2000, residents were given two types of Census questionnaires: a short form and a long form (in 2010, only the short form was used; it does not ask the respondent’s country of origin). In contrast, the annual American Community Survey (which is mandatory, as is the U.S. Census) polls around three million U.S. residents, or one percent of the U.S. population, and asks about education levels, jobs, housing, ethnicity and immigration status.

The estimated number of unauthorized immigrants from India has increased from about 120,000 in 2000 to about 200,000 in 2009, an increase of 64 percent, the report said. Immigration status statistics were provided by the Department of Homeland Security, since the ACS does not ask questions about status, said Terrazas.

The Migration Policy Institute study showed that compared to other immigrant groups,

the Indian foreign born are much better educated — nearly three-quarters of Indian-born adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In 2008, 73.6 percent of Indian-born adults age 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 27.1 percent among all 31.9 million foreign-born adults and 27.8 percent of all 168.1 million native-born adults. About one-quarter of Indian-born men in the labor force work in the information technology industry.

According to the report, over half of Indian immigrants residing in the United States in 2008 were men (54.8 percent) and 45.2 percent were women.

Even though the Indian-born population now rates in third place, their numbers in relation to the U.S. population overall are likely to decrease over the coming decade, said Terrazas, especially in relation to those of Latinos. “Indian fertility rates are similar to those of U.S.-born citizens,” he said. “The growing Latino population growth is due to their higher fertility in the U.S.”

That said, “I would expect [the numbers of] all immigrant groups to slow down in ’09-‘10” due to the recession, he added.

To read the entire study, visit the Migration Policy Institute’s Web site at The institute is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide.