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Indians the third largest immigrant group in US

June 10, 2010 11:34 IST

The United States is home to about 1.6 million Indian origin people, making them the third-largest immigrant group in the country after Mexicans and Filipino, a Washington-based think tank has said.

Between 2007 and 2008, the number of Indian immigrants surpassed the number of Chinese and Hong Kong-born immigrants for the first time since at least 1960, said the Migration Policy Institute in its latest report.

Indian immigration to the US, a fairly recent phenomenon, grew rapidly during the 1990s and 2000s. In addition, people with Indian ancestry have also immigrated to the US from the Caribbean, East Africa, Canada, and the United Kingdom, said the report authored by Aaron Terrazas and Cristina Batog.

The report said Indians are heavily concentrated in California and New Jersey. 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.

About one-quarter of Indian-born men in the labour force work in the information technology industry. Nearly half of all Indian immigrants resided in California, New Jersey, New York, and Texas, it said.

California had the largest number of Indian immigrants (303,497 or 18.7 per cent 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). Texas (131,729, or 8.1 per cent), Illinois (129,187, or 8.0 per cent), Pennsylvania (65,014, or 4.0 per cent), Florida 59,169, or 3.6 per cent), Georgia (54,111, or 3.3 per cent), Virginia (53,674, or 3.3 per cent), and Michigan (49,167, or 3.0 per cent) are the other cities with substantial Indian-origin population.

In 2008, the Indian born made up 10.9 per cent of all immigrants in New Jersey and 10.3 per cent of all immigrants in West Virginia. They were also about one in 10 immigrants in Pennsylvania (9.8 per cent), Delaware (9.7 per cent), New Hampshire (9.5 per cent), and Ohio (9.5 per cent).

The Indian immigrant population more than doubled in 10 states between 2000 and 2008. These states, which generally had small Indian immigrant populations in 2000, include Montana (from 253 to 1,009), Utah (from 2,030 to 5,629), Nevada (from 2,511 to 6,750), Idaho (from 845 to 2,269), Arizona (from 9,134 to 22,731) and Washington (from 14,714 to 36,435).

New Hampshire (from 2,530 to 6,244), Vermont (from 585 to 1,429), Mississippi (from 2,351 to 5,010), and the District of Columbia (from 1,139 to 2,350) where increase in population was observed.

Over one in six Indian immigrants resided in the New York metropolitan area. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA, was the metropolitan area with the largest number of Indian born (277,401, or 17.1 per cent) in 2008, followed by Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI (116,395, or 7.2 per cent); San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA (78,001, or 4. 8 per cent); Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV (67,340, or 4.2 per cent); and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA (66,125 or 4.1 per cent).

Of the 2.3 million members of the Indian diaspora residing in the US in 2008, 66.4 per cent were born in India, including individuals born in India to at least one parent who was a native-born US citizen. One-fifth (20.0 per cent) were US citizens at birth.

The remaining 13.6 per cent were born elsewhere, mainly in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Fiji, the Caribbean (Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica), East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa), and the British Commonwealth (Canada, United Kingdom).

The Indian diaspora in the United States is relatively small compared to the total population of India (1. 1 billion in 2008 according to the World Bank). The number of Indian immigrants in the US (1.6 million) is roughly the same size as the population of the Indian city of Agra, and the Indian diaspora (2.3 million) is about the same size as the population of Jaipur.

As of 2008, 43.4 per cent of the 1.6 million Indian foreign born entered the country in 2000 or later, with 29.9 per cent entering between 1990 and 1999, 15.0 per cent between 1980 and 1989, 9.0 per cent between 1970 and 1979, and the remaining 2.7 per cent prior to 1970.

By contrast, 29.5 per cent of the 38.0 million total foreign born entered the country in 2000 or later, with 28.7 per cent entering between 1990 and 1999, 20.0 per cent entering between 1980 and 1989, 11.4 per cent between 1970 and 1979, and the remaining 10.4 per cent prior to 1970.

According to the report, over half of Indian immigrants residing in the United States in 2008 were men (54. 8 per cent) and 45.2 per cent were women. Among all immigrants, 50.2 per cent were men and 49. 8 per cent were women.

Further, Indian immigrants were as likely as the foreign born overall to be naturalised US citizens.

Among the Indian foreign born, 43.8 per cent were naturalised US citizens, compared to 43.0 per cent among the overall foreign-born population. Also three of every 10 Indian immigrants in 2008 were limited English proficient.

About 9.2 per cent of Indian immigrants age 5 and older reported speaking "English only" while 62.4 per cent reported speaking English "very well". In terms of academic achievement, Indian immigrants were better educated than other immigrants and the native born.

In 2008, 73.6 per cent 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 per cent of all 168.

Among the 713,000 Indian immigrant male workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labour force in 2008, 27. 0 per cent reported working in information technology; 20.2 per cent in management, business, and finance; 10.7 per cent in other sciences and engineering; and 10.6 per cent in sales, the report said.

About 16.4 per cent of Indian immigrants lived in poverty in 2008 compared to 37.9 per cent of all immigrants and 28.7 per cent of the native born.

The estimated number of unauthorised immigrants from India has increased from about 120,000 in 2000 to about 200,000 in 2009, an increase of 64 per cent, the report said.

Photograph: Rediff Archives

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