Back To Blog

America’s Immigrants: Who Are We Now?

The US is not called a melting pot for nothing. It’s fair to say that if America is a nation of immigrants, then American culture is conglomerate of all these different cultural origins melted together into some sort of fondue. Most likely cheese fondue, because Americans love cheese and each person eats 23 pounds of it a year.

And like real cooking, the flavor of American society changes as different spices in the form of diverse people are added to the mix. We can tell a lot about ourselves and our current flavor by studying countries of origin and language use of our people.

So who are we now? We can tell by looking at a snapshot of the current crop of immigrants:

So…Who are these people? Facts about Immigrants:

 

Currently there are 40 million immigrants (12% of the population) and 270 million American natives: a total of about 310 million people living in the United States. Of the immigrants, 4% come from Africa, 28.2% come from Asia, 12.1% come from Europe, 53.1% come from Latin America and the Caribbean, 2% comes from North America, and .5% comes from Oceania.

Roughly 55% of all immigrants have come from the top ten sending countries:

  1. Mexico
  2. China
  3. India
  4. Philippines
  5. Vietnam
  6. El Salvador
  7. Cuba
  8. Korea
  9. The Dominican Republic
  10. Guatemala

From sending countries, the largest percentage increase in the last decade was for those from:

  1. Honduras (85%)
  2. India (74%)
  3. Guatemala (73%)
  4. Peru (54%)
  5. El Salvador (49%)
  6. Ecuador (48%)
  7. China (43%)

Hippies versus Hipsters: Today versus the 1960s!

The immigrant profile in the 1960’s is dramatically different from what it is today. According to the Census, the majority of immigrants in 1960 were coming from Europe and in much smaller numbers – only 9.7 million out of 179.3 million consisted of the foreign-born population. However, these immigrants consisted of over 18% of the population and today’s immigrants only account for 12%.

The landscape for languages spoken in US homes has changed:

Source: 1960 Census and 2010 Census.

As you can see, dominant languages have swapped places in just fifty years.

Yeah, But, What Does This Mean?

As anyone can see, there is a dramatic and rising trend of Spanish speakers. Currently, Spanish dominates as the most-spoken language after English. From our multiple Spanish radio and television channels to service advertisements catering to this population by offering ‘Hablamos Español,” everything reflects Spanish-speaking immigrants’ presence and participation in modern-day America.

The 1960’s – a post-WWII and mid-Cold War era – is remarkably different from our 2000’s in many ways, not least of which are the immigration rates and language use. While our immigrants were predominantly European in the past, we now have a more international fair of people moving into our American borders. A lot of this can be attributed to current events and our (mostly) successful economy over the last 50 years.

Still Adding Spices: Today’s Immigrants are A Mere Snapshot

While there are no doubts Spanish will continue to be a dominant language in the US for some time, immigration is shifting again in this post-Recession world.

Demographers from the Brookings Institution who study the trends in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey have recorded a decrease in the Hispanic migration. And for the first time ever, there have been more Asian immigrants coming into the country in the past year than Latinos.

The American culture and immigration-makeup will probably look (and taste!) dramatically different in another 50 years, as differently as it looked 50 years before now. Change is inevitable and positive: like our mothers always said, the more spices you add in, the better the pot will taste.

Learn about Lee Health's leading language services program in the latest CyraCom case study.   Download Now