Asians start to dominate the ‘fourth wave’ of US immigrants

(From The Nikkei Asian Review)

The face of the U.S. is changing fast, and it’s looking more and more Asian. As more people from countries in the region, especially China and India, move to the U.S. in search of a better life, communities are changing to meet their needs. And newcomers, in turn, are changing their new home.

Rockville, Maryland, has seen an influx of Chinese and Indian immigrants recently

Rockville, Maryland, has seen an influx of Chinese and Indian immigrants recently

One typical example is Amber Wang, a former journalist. The Nikkei Asian Review caught up with her at lunch recently at a Shanghainese restaurant in the central business district of the suburban city of Rockville, Maryland, near Washington. The city is home to a growing Chinatown, with an increasing concentration of supermarkets, mass electronics retailers, beauty salons and other shops.

Born in China, Wang immigrated to the U.S. six years ago with her husband, a scientist. She said it was her husband’s decision to move to the U.S., considering his career and the future of their children. “Rockville is very convenient. There are many Chinese stores,” she said. The Wangs, who live in Virginia, are now building a house in Rockville, as they have been impressed by the high quality of life there.

Maryland is home to a number of biotechnology and information technology-related companies and institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, one of the world’s most advanced medical research centers. The residents there tend to be well-off, and the quality of the schools and houses is high. Asians like Wang are attracted to this environment. Montgomery County, which includes Rockville, has a population of about 1 million, 15% of whom are Asian.

Joan Wang, who launched a civil engineering consulting company in 2012, said, "Maryland is one of the best places to start a business."

Joan Wang, who launched a civil engineering consulting company in 2012, said, “Maryland is one of the best places to start a business.”

In Maryland, many Asians are starting businesses, thanks to the state’s support for minorities. “Maryland is one of the best places to start a business,” said Joan Wang, another resident of Chinese descent. She founded iDesign Engineering, an environment-friendly civil engineering and consulting company, in Silver Spring, a town near Rockville. According to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a U.S. research institute, one-fourth of technology and engineering companies set up in Maryland from 2006 to 2012 were founded by immigrants. Of these, many were started by people from China or India.

  Rockville and Silver Spring are a snapshot of the future of the U.S. population. Roughly 19.4 million Asians now live in the U.S., up about 50% over the past decade. One estimate shows the number might jump by about 150% in 2060 from the current level. The ethnic Asian population is still trailing behind those of other minority groups such as Hispanics and African Americans, but the Asian population growth overwhelms others.
Oak Tree Road, New Jersey, is a popular destination for immigrants from India

Oak Tree Road, New Jersey, is a popular destination for immigrants from India

Suburb on the map

A number of Indian shops, including clothing and jewelry stores and restaurants, occupy both sides of Oak Tree Road in Edison, a township in New Jersey about an hour’s drive from Manhattan. “People in India know the area. It’s on world maps,” said Mahesh Shah, vice chairman of the Indian Business Association.

Edison has a population of some 100,000 and people with Indian heritage account for 30% of them. Its good location — the suburbs of New York — has attracted many immigrants from India, transforming an area that was once run-down. Now the town is thriving, and is a magnet for Indian residents.

There have been four waves of immigration to the U.S.: 1) Native Americans; 2) immigrants from Western and Northern Europe and slaves from Africa from the 16th century to the 19th century; 3) immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean in the 19th and 20th centuries; and 4) immigrants from Latin America and Asia after World War II.

The fourth wave has accelerated since 1965. President Lyndon Johnson eased restrictions on the number of immigrants to be accepted from each country, and as a result the number of immigrants from Latin America and Asia, which had been suppressed under stricter limits than those on people from Europe, started rising sharply. Their fertility rates are also generally high, which is helping drive the steady expansion of the U.S. population.

The lead player in the fourth wave is about to shift from Latinos to Asians. In 2013, the U.S. accepted a total of more than 1.2 million immigrants. The top spots were dominated by Asian countries, with 147,000 people from China and 129,000 from India, exceeding the 125,000 from Mexico. Immigrants from South Korea and the Philippines have also kept climbing. The recent trend underscores the fact that Asia, a region with a diverse mix of countries and huge populations, is gaining greater presence in the U.S.

Furthermore, diligent Asians earn high incomes and achieve high education. Statistics in 2013 showed that their median household income was $72,000 and people aged 25 or older who have a bachelor’s degree or higher stood at 51%, considerably higher than the U.S. national average of $52,000 and 30%. This is another reason that Asians are increasing their presence in the country.

Patty Chen runs a real estate company in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. “We not only arrange contracts to buy a house; we support many things, such as kids, fixing up a house and finding shops. They come to us for support.” She said she has received requests from Chinese clients looking to buy houses for cash. These customers hope to immigrate to the U.S. for their children’s education or to protect their assets, even though they may not be fluent in English.

According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia, the purchasing power of Asians in the U.S. totaled $770 billion as of 2014 — 19th in the world if compared with gross domestic product data — larger than Saudi Arabia and Switzerland. One estimate by Selig showed that their purchasing power will continue to expand and top $1 trillion in 2019. The increase in the number of Asians, who are relatively young and wealthy, might serve as a tailwind for the U.S. economy, which has been struggling with the after effects of the financial crisis and its aging population.

A huge crowd cheers Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Madison Square Garden in New York on Sept  28, 2014

A huge crowd cheers Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Madison Square Garden in New York on Sept 28, 2014

Meanwhile, the higher Asians’ economic status becomes, the bigger say they have in the country. In September 2014, about 19,000 people reportedly gathered at Madison Square Garden in New York to show their support for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his first visit to the U.S. since taking office. The Indian group that organized the event claimed it was the largest ever in the U.S. to welcome a foreign leader.

MR Rangaswami, an Indian investor who participated in the event, said, “That was a big milestone event that the community can look back on and feel proud.” He is also involved in lobbying and takes as an example Jewish-Americans. By learning about their political and charity activities, he tries to boost the recognition of the Indian-American community in the U.S. as well as the national interests of India. Lobbying campaigns by Indian residents were also the driving force behind the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, which took effect in 2008.

“My dad told me as a young kid that Americans can do anything. I believed him then, and I believe it now,” said Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana. On June 24, he announced his candidacy for the presidential race in 2016, becoming the first Indian-American to become a major contender. Nikki Haley, the Republican governor of South Carolina and another Indian-American, is also mentioned as a vice-presidential candidate. In the not-too-distant future, an Asian American may become the most powerful person in the U.S.


Categories: Asia Times News & Features


  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    A well written article on the issue of Asian immigration into the US. Every point put forth is valid and illuminating except for the opening line, which I quote: “The face of the U.S. is changing fast, and it’s looking more and more Asian.”
    The face of America is changing fast, but the change is coming from the tens of millions of Hispanic immigrants (both legal and illegal). The best metaphor is that this is a “Tsunami” of Hispanics.
    They are literally changing the face of America.
    They speak “new world” Spanish (Hispanic), they are, by and large, conservative Catholics. They do not carry the baggage of American history including a “collective sense” of guilt, regarding the period of black slavery, with them and finally and most crucially, they do not have to break form their cultural roots. Unlike any other immigrant their cultural roots are roughly around one thousand miles south of the US border.

    What may happen? They already number over 55 million, making them the 2nd largest minority in the US, and well ahead of the black community. They are already holding government positions from city, county, state, to Federal levels. Spanish is now the unofficial “second” language of the United States. New American Catholicism is beginning to dominate a “Protestant” nation.
    It may pivot the United States from a “Euro Centric” nation to a “New World Latin” nation.
    The United States may remain the dominant power in the world but her policies will eventually be dictated by Hispanics who will, by and large, maintain their Hispanic Catholic roots. These new immigrants already consider themselves “American” in the sense that they come from the “American” continent.
    Tensions between the Hispanic and Black community are surging. There are few apologists from the Hispanic community in an “in your face” confrontation with the US black community. The historic hold black leaders have on the US, regarding the collective sense of guilt due to this nation’s history of slavery, is not working with the Hispanics. Both language and the Christian sect of Catholicism completes the facial alteration of America.

  • panasian

    No, the U.S. will NOT remain the dominant power, because of the increase of low-IQ Hispanic population and even lower-IQ blacks. These low-IQ groups will make up at least 45 % of the U.S. population by the middle of this century.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    If you base it on that yes. but if you base it on another indicator such as the US with only 5% of the world’s population still consumes 25% of her energy resources, then yes. If that consumption is disrupted or severely curtailed it would have a negative global ramification on other economies.
    If you consider the number of patents and Nobel laureates coming from the US, or “corporate America” where 10% own 90% of a 12 trillion dollar economy as well as large chunks of other economies, Where 1% of that 10% own 50% of that 90% of wealth. and 80% of the US population own 7% of the wealth, which alone amounts to trillions of dollars. Yes the US is powerful but the power is being concentrated in an elite group. you can say that the US is a functioning “Oligarchy’ (rule by the elite) than a functioning Republic, but nevertheless wielding a lot of power.

  • panasian

    As a whole, China, not the the largest consumer of energy in the world. On the other hand, America is still the biggest consumer of energy on PER CAPITA BASIS. China is the largest economy in the world in the PPP(purchasing power parity) terms. Also China’s economy will be bigger than that of the U.S. even in nominal terms( by using straight exchange rates) sometime between 2022 and 2026. By the way, American economy is worth 18 trillion dollars, not 12 trillion dollars as you stated. Because of the impending negative demographic change in which low IQ Hispanics and blacks will be close to a majority in America, the American days of dominance in Nobel Prizes and patents, etc are numbered. One thing agree with you is that the U.S. should do a lot better job of alleviating the wealth inequality in the country.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    That is why I clearly stated for you that 5% of the world’s economy is consuming 25% of her energy. per capita consumption of China’s economy would not even light up the garage of an American suburbanite.

  • panasian

    Since China’s economy is growing a lot faster than that of the U.S., it’s a matter of when not if, that China’s per capita income and it’s per capita energy consumption would be larger than those of America. America is doomed because it will be largely populated by low -IQ Hispanics, blacks, other non-whites (with the exception of high IQ North East Asians) by the middle of this century.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    I disagree

  • panasian

    You can disagree. But that’s what’s going to happen in the next 35 years.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    You are wrong because you cannot with accuracy, predict what is going to happen from a year from now, on several key issues around the world, let alone 35 years from now.
    For you to assume you know what would happen over a quarter of a century from now is silly.

  • panasian

    By looking at the way things are going in the U.S. it might happen even sooner. The more America has low-IQ Hispanics and blacks, the faster America will descend into it’s impending doom.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    You are stuck on one groove of the record and you keep looping it over and over again. India and China have oceans of extremely illiterate people. So apply your analysis on those nation or the continent of Africa
    secondly the collapse of the largest economy in the world, which in the 90’s was called a “global. village” with logos showing people holding hands in a circle, and the people were the nations, means if the mighty US falls, she drags many other economies with her. no nation is an island in this world anymore.

  • panasian

    Boy, you are full of it. The literacy rate in China is about 96.4% which is very close to the level of the advanced countries. Frankly I really don’t care about India or Africa or Latin America. The “mighty” America will NOT be mighty any more when it ‘s filled with low-IQ Hispanics and blacks. Even now a lot of white students avoid to major in STEM( science, technology, engineering, math). You go to any graduate school in the U.S. , you will see a vast majority of STEM students are Asians most of who will go back to their countries after graduation because they have better opportunities in their home countries.

  • Jack Temujin

    I concur, I know plenty of smart Blacks in the States, but I hardly know any smart Hispanics. Majority of kids born to Hispanic women are out of wedlock. Dumbing down of America will get much worse. I bet Harvard and other Ivy league schools love to bring these “Qualified” Hispanics to their school instead of Asians.

  • DavePh

    While I concur with some of your points, I do not believe in degrading any other communities. We have a black president who is smarter then a lot many of his predecessors. He brought us out of the financial sink hole were were in 8 years ago. Hispanics have different perspective and goal in life, they just want to have a job and raise a family, send money to their extended or close family in Latin America. it will take one more generation for their kids to see what they can achieve in America, and they too will have higher goals in life.

    In any country, it is always that top 10% with higher skills or command who shape the future of their country. USA has that talent in abundance, so nothing to worry. I know a lot many Chinese and Indians who make USA their home, so all their education and skills remain an asset within the country.

    Also, US will remain the MIGHTY power that can defeat any Nation in a conventional war for another 50 years. China has a long long way to go in catching up, of course what China is good at is reverse engineering and espionage over Cyber space.

  • panasian

    Degrading other communities? It’s a known fact that both Hispanics and blacks have low-IQ and their academic achievements in school are less than desirable. Obama might be a smart black person but how many times we find a lot of other blacks who are not that smart. Yao Ming is a lot taller than average Americans. But that doesn’t mean average Chinese is taller than average Americans. If half the population of a country have low IQ and are academically underperforming, you will have a big problem. Even white kids are not doing well either because of dumbing down of academic subjects and the excessive obsession with political correctness. By looking at the way American school system’s watering-down of academic subjects and American students’ avoidance of majoring in STEM, I think the days of the American dominance in science and technology are numbered. The creativity -lacking America. was the biggest copycat in the world in the 19th and early 20th centuries. America copied other countries’ inventions, ideas without regard to patents, copyright, trademarks. Even the U.S. Treasury Department under Alexander Hamilton set up a bounty system for rewarding anybody for stealing and bringing foreign technologies to America. As a matter of fact, the 19th century American textile industry was basically based on stolen British technologies. Also Americans were infamous for illegally copying Charles Dickens’ novels and making unsafe and gross food products. You can find all this information and more by reading Aug 26, 2007 Boston Globe article named A NATION OF OUTLAWS A CENTURY AGO, THAT WASN’T CHINA—– IT WAS US and also a Dec 5, 2012 Foreign Policy article titled WE WERE PIRATES, TOO. Every developed country went through copying stage before it became innovative. Germans stole and copied from British. Americans stole and copied from Europe and Japan stole and copied from both Europe and America. Also before the Industrial Revolution the backward Europeans copied a lot of things from China and Islamic civilization.