Friday, July 27, 2012

The new shape of immigration

There has been a veritable blizzard of major news stories lately. Between the continuing crisis of the European Union, the spate of major rulings from the Supreme Court, and the continuing presidential election campaign, we’re all a bit overwhelmed.

But a recent report from the Pew Research Center bears immigration news worth noting and commenting upon.

The report, aptly called “The Rise of Asian Americans,” is a hefty tome indeed, at 215 pages chock full of data. It reveals that for the first time in history, the plurality of all new American immigrants now hails from Asia — primarily China (23.2% of all Asian Americans), India (18.4%), Japan (7.5%), Korea (9.9%), the Philippines (19.7%), and Vietnam (10.0%).

As recently as 2007, the plurality of immigrants was Hispanic, primarily from Mexico. That year, 540,000 immigrants were Hispanic, compared to 390,000 Asians. But in 2010, Asians were 36% of new immigrants, while Hispanics dropped to 31%.

This culminates the decade-long, precipitous slide in Hispanic immigration, which was at 1.2 million in 2000, fell to about half that in 2002, went up to about 800,000 in 2005, and has dropped steadily since, to less than 400,000 in 2010.

By contrast, the number of Asian Americans quadrupled between 1980 and 2010, and now stands at 18.2 million, counting native- and foreign-born, adults and children. (The Pew Center’s count is slightly higher than the Census Bureau’s, with the difference being that Pew counts people with only one Asian parent as Asian. That is nearly 6% of the population, quite a rise from the 1% it was back in 1965. (By comparison, non-Hispanic whites are 63.3%, Hispanics are 16.7% and blacks 12.3%). The report projects that by mid-century, the number of Asian Americans will hit 41 million.

Of course, this is just a projection by the Pew Center, which is certainly reputable, but obviously fallible. Still, these figures are suggestive.

The reasons for this shift are varied. There are relevant demographic shifts abroad, such as the drop in the birth rate in Mexico, which as recently as the 1960s was one of the highest on the planet, with the average woman having nearly seven children — higher even than Indian and Chinese women — but now is roughly the same as the US rate (a little over two children per average woman).

But the report mentions what is clearly the major factor: our nation’s continuing shift from a manufacturing to an epistemic or knowledge-based economy. Blue-collar jobs, especially the low-skilled ones, simply have been increasingly less in demand over the past quarter-century. And a prolonged recession and slow recovery such as the one we are enduring only increases the gap in employment levels between blue- and white-collar workers.

So the disappearance of a lot of blue-collar jobs, especially in construction, has meant that more opportunities have opened for Asian immigrants, who tend to have higher educational attainment than recent Hispanic immigrants.

Add to this another factor: we have tightened the southern border, which means that Asians, who tend to get more student and high-tech (H1-B) work visas, are now in a better position to come here.

A major factor in their success is the fact that Asian Americans have a lower rate of single-parent households than does the population as a whole (20% versus 37%). They are more likely to be married than is average for Americans (59% versus 51%), and have fewer births to single mothers (16% versus 41%).

However, of paramount importance is the level of higher education. Nearly half (49%) of all Asian American workers have a bachelor’s degree, which is more than half again as many as the average — 28% — for all American workers. For non-Hispanic whites, it is 31%, for blacks 18%, and for Hispanics 13%.

Asian students — both American-born and foreign — tend disproportionately to choose more technical college majors, which is no doubt another factor in their success. In 2010, they received 45% of all engineering doctorates awarded at American universities, 38% of all computer and math doctorates, 33% of all physical sciences doctorates, 25% of all life sciences doctorates, and 19% of all social science doctorates.

Since Asians are culturally very inclined to pursue higher education, and since the US has an extensive but still relatively inexpensive source of higher education, and again since our economy is increasingly knowledge-based, it is no surprise that as a group Asian-Americans are moving sharply upward economically.

That rise has been as dramatic as it has been rapid. Asian Americans now have the highest median household income of any broad American ethnic group — European Americans included. Asian-American households average $66,000 a year, nearly a third higher than the median of all American households (which is $49,800). Whites average $54,000, Hispanics $40,000, and blacks $33,300.

Among Asian Americans, median annual family income varies. Indians average $88,000, Filipinos $75,000, Japanese $65,390, Chinese $65,050, Vietnamese $53,400, and Koreans $50,000. But all this is quite remarkable, considering that according to Pew’s figures, nearly three-fourths (74%) of Asian American adults were born abroad.


Has Ron Unz built his castle on sand?

I originally  put this piece up on DISSECTING LEFTISM but I think it has a place here too

Among his many worthy attributes, Ron Unz, publisher of The American Conservative, is an expert on the statistics of Hispanic crime.  He concludes that Hispanics are not as crime-prone as many people think.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to match his expertise and one reason why is that many of the available statistics that form the fodder for analysis of Hispanic crime are very likely hopelessly wrong.   They are sandy ground on which to build anything.

I confess that I have myself used official U.S. census data  to look at Hispanic crime but reflection tells me that  I was pissing into the wind.  Using surveys and censuses to study a group who have a fervent desire to stay beneath official notice is surely a foolish enterprise.  A huge slice of the target group will simply be missed by surveys and censuses.  It is presumably for that reason that the year 2000 US census showed only 0.7% of  Mexican born males aged 18-35 as having a criminal record.   And other Hispanic groups are similar.  That compares with 3.04% of the male  population as a whole in that age group.  According to the census, Hispanics in the USA are super-law-abiding.  You don't have to be very cynical to conclude from that that the boot is on the other foot:  Only unusually law-abiding Hispanics fill out the census.

But Ron Unz does not confine his attention to surveys and censuses.  He also uses what prison statistics he can get his hands on.  So perhaps he still has something.  If he does, Obama is a colossal liar.

Now I don't rule that out.  I think Obama is only as honest as it suits him.  But his oft-repeated claim that he deports 400,000 illegals a year has never been challenged to my knowledge and it is surely something that could fairly easily be challenged by anyone in touch with such matters if it were grossly inaccurate.  It is, moreover, only a small increase over what was recorded in the Bush years.  And Obama assures us not only that the deportees are all criminals but that they are SERIOUS criminals.  Minor offenders are let off.  But 400,000 is 3.3% of the approximately 12 million Hispanics in the USA.  And that 3.3% is being repeated EVERY year.  So over a 10 year period a THIRD of the Hispanic population would have been deported.  So is it 33.3% of the Hispanic population rather than 0.7% who have criminal records?

I put the Obama claims to Ron Unz in correspondence and his reply was:  "Relying upon the Obama deportation data as evidence of "serious criminality" is totally absurd: the deportations involve things like traffic tickets, driving without a license (illegals being unable to obtain licenses), or lying about immigration status"

So I guess it's his word against Obama's.  Not an easy choice in the circumstances.  Given Obama's obvious reluctance to deport, I find it hard to believe that he does so on trivial grounds.  I am inclined to think that the Hispanic community would have rumbled him by now were he doing so  -- JR


I posted the article above elsewhere yesterday so already have a reply to it from Ron Unz.  He has emailed me the following curiously "ad hominem" reply as follows:

I do agree that if I'm correct then the public speeches of President Obama would be "colossal lies," though probably no more than the political rhetoric of most politicians.

However, perhaps being a psychometrician in Australia you are perhaps unfamiliar with the dynamics of the American criminal justice system. In particular, illegal immigrants who commit "serious crimes" are NOT immediately deported, and never have been. Instead, they are *prosecuted* and sent to prison.  Sometimes, after they have finished their lengthy prison sentence (for a "serious crime"), they are then afterward deported.

Think a bit about it. Suppose an illegal immigrant raped or killed someone. If he were just deported instead of being punished, he might very well just sneak back again, and once he turned up in the same neighborhood, having escaped any punishment for his crimes, the public outcry would be enormous and all the responsible politicians would be defeated for reelection.

From what you say, you are a trained psychometrian and have every right to dispute my IQ analysis on technical grounds. If you invest some time and effort, you could certainly familiarize yourself with the detailed evidence on Hispanic crime rates to challenge my article (which, incidentally, has over the last couple of years persuaded pretty much everyone of an open mind).

But you make yourself look extraordinarily foolish when you take a political campaign phrase by President Obama that he has only been deporting illegal immigrants who are "serious criminals" to therefore conclude that at least 10% of all illegal immigrants are "serious criminals."

If you bothered reading any of the hundreds or thousands of major newspaper articles on this contentious subject, you would quickly see it was absurd. I'm not sure that I can think of even a single American-based rightwing blogger or writer---no matter how fanatically anti-immigrant or extreme in views---who has ever made the claim that you make.

I don't claim to be an expert on Australian society, but I'm sure if I'm tried I could take some random phrase by some local politican and use it to draw social conclusions which were utterly absurd and ridiculous, making me look like an idiot. I strongly suggest that you focus on your areas of expertise.

Ron Unz

My reply to the above was as follows:


So you are telling me that MY castle is built on sand because I live in Australia!

I don't think I was overlooking anything.  I actually have a blog called "Gun Watch" that posts daily on American crimes of violence so I think I am pretty aware of what goes on in American courts.  I think that does in its way give me some small expertise on the subject.  I certainly read a lot of cases.

And a key observation is that most offenders receive only short jail terms, and under  plea bargains, may spend no time in jail at all.  So some offenders rack up a huge "rap sheet".  In other words, there are a lot of "serious criminals" wandering around America.

One thing for certain is that ICE is very picky about whom they deport.  They have too few resources to deport everyone who comes to light.  And when people like sheriff Joe try to send them illegals they often delay until the offender has to be released.

So I actually support Obama's various edicts that only serious offenders who are presented to them should be deported.  And such presentations can come off the street or at the time of jail release

So I see Obama as having a consistent and sensible policy that is the result of a lot of heavily contested political debate and believe what he says in this instance. It is core policy, not some random utterance

I presume that Ron Unz will now turn his data-analytical virtuosity to a dissection of Obama's deportation statistics.  He would do us all a great favour if he did that.  CIS already have a heap of data on  immigration  so with their help he should be able to get access to the raw data fairly readily, one imagines  -- JR

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