India and China show an immigration shift, slowly outpacing Mexico


Siddaharth Jaganath, a resident of the Dallas suburbs in Texas, originally planned to earn his master’s degree at Texas’ Southern Methodist University and head back home to India to start a new life. Instead he built his new life in the U.S. over a decade. “You start growing your roots and eventually end up staying here,” says the 37-year-old.

Many immigrants from China and India, some with work visas, have overtaken Mexicans as the largest groups coming to the Unites States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau research released in May. This immigration shift has been building for more than a decade and is bringing more skilled immigrants into the country. Some Republican presidential candidates have proposed a heavier focus on employment-based migration, which could accelerate traditional slow changes to the country’s ever-evolving face of immigration.

Mexicans still dominate the overall composition of immigrants in the United States and account for more than a quarter of the foreign-born people. But China led with 147,000 of the 1.2 million newly-arrived immigrants here legally and illegally counted in 2013, followed by India with 129,000 and Mexico with 125,000. Previously there were 402,000 from Mexico and no more than 84,000 each from India and China. Experts believe that the decrease in Mexican immigrants was the dramatic plunge in illegal immigration.

Deputy Director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program, the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, Marc Rosenblum says, “We’re not likely to see Asians overtake Latin Americans anytime soon (in overall immigration population). But we are sort of at the leading edge of this transition where Asians will represent a larger and larger share of the U.S. foreign-born population.”

Experts say that without revisions in immigration policy the change to the overall immigrant population will be slow. One reason is that the number of Mexicans who become legal permanent residents is about twice the number of Indian and Chinese people who do.

But a rising number of Chinese and Indians will become permanent residents, given the current rate of about half of people here on temporary work visas obtaining that status, Fix said.

Jaganath was among that group, inspired to come to the U.S. because the country is a leader in his career field.