Asian Americans [Image Source: Getty Images/Ariel Skelley]

Asians and Immigration

ASEAN China India

Asians comprised almost 35 percent of the total number of naturalized U.S. citizens and over 40 percent of new legal permanent residents in 2012, according to data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Breaking this down into actual numbers, of the 757,434 individuals who took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States last year for the first time as a U.S. citizen, 260,921 were from Asia. As highlighted in the graph below, over the past ten years Asians have ranked first, joint-first or second for the number of foreign nationals becoming U.S. citizens.

U.S. Naturalizations 2003 - 2012 (Click to enlarge)

Three Asian countries—the Philippines, India and China—feature in the top five table for nationalities that chose to become U.S. citizens in 2012, with Mexico ranked first and the Dominican Republic fourth. This increase in naturalizations from Asia is attributed to a number of social changes over the past half century in the United States, including the reversal of Europe-centric immigration policies, refugee flows from Indochina in the 1970s, and traditionally higher rates of Asian naturalizations compared to other groups. Five U.S. states—Alaska, California, Hawai‘i, Michigan, and Mississippi—had over 50 percent of their new U.S. citizens come from Asia in 2012, and an additional seven states had over 40 percent of their newly naturalized citizens originate from the region.

Likewise, of the 1,031,631 foreign nationals in 2012 who were granted legal permanent residency (Green Cards) in the United States, 434,341 came from Asia. The largest number of Green Vard recipients for 2012 came from Mexico, with individuals from China, India, and the Philippines ranked 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively. Twelve states had over 50 percent of their green cards go to individuals from Asia, and another 22 states issued over 40 percent of their green cards to Asians. The table to the right shows that Asians have consistently ranked first or joint-first as green card recipients over the past ten years.

U.S. Green Card Recipients 2003 - 2012 (Click to enlarge)

Asians outrank Hispanics as new immigrants coming to the United States and regarding the impact of Asian immigration upon America society as a whole, “Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States,” according to the latest Pew Research Center report titled The Rise of Asian Americans.