Category Archives: Immigration

Migrants: Where to and where from

If you ever wondered why there is a better selection of tortillas in your local store or why getting good garam masala is suddenly much easier, the Pew Research Group has a quick way to look at immigration and emigration.

The Pew Group has a GREAT interactive graphic to look at immigrant and emigrant movements during the past 25 years at Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants, from 1990-2015

Along with an interactive map, the Pew Group added a table so you can see with real numbers migration movement.

I’ll let the Pew Group explain what its wonderful graphic depicts:

The figures in this interactive feature refer to the total number (or cumulative “stocks”) of migrants living around the world as of 1990, 2000, 2010 or 2015 rather than to the annual rate of migration (or current “flows”) in a given year. Since migrants have both an origin and a destination, international migrants can be viewed from two directions – as an emigrant (leaving an origin country) or as an immigrant (entering a destination country).

According to the United Nations Population Division, an international migrant is someone who has been living for one year or longer in a country other than the one in which he or she was born. This means that many foreign workers and international students are counted as migrants. Additionally, the UN considers refugees and, in some cases, their descendants (such as Palestinians born in refugee camps outside of the Palestinian territories) to be international migrants. For the purposes of this interactive feature, estimates of the number of unauthorized immigrants living in various countries also are included in the total counts. On the other hand, tourists, foreign-aid workers, temporary workers employed abroad for less than a year and overseas military personnel typically are not counted as migrants.

And for those wondering, the total number of migrants living in the United States in 2015 came from:

  1. Mexico – 12 million
  2. China – 2.1 million
  3. India – 1.9 million
  4. Philippines – 1.7 million
  5. Puerto Rico – 1.7 million
  6. Viet Nam – 1.3 million
  7. El Salvador – 1.2 million
  8. Cuba – 1.1 million
  9. South Korea – 1.1 million
  10. Dominican Republic – 940,000
  11. Guatemala – 880,000

Remember, this is the TOTAL number of people from these countries living in the United States, NOT the number arriving in 2015. And I would personally put the migration from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland as internal migration rather than international. (That is why I have a Top 11, rather than Top 10). Seems the United Nations has its own way of looking at these things.

And in case you are wondering, in 2015 there were 180,000 people from Iraqi living in the United States and 70,000 from Syria, both up from 40,000 each in 1990.

Local reporters can follow-up on this information for a local angle by using material from the U.S. Census Bureau.

For example, I know from the American FactFinder, there are a lot of Ethiopian restaurants in Fairfax County, Virginia (population 1.1 million) because Ethiopian immigrants are the largest African group in Fairfax – 6,000 out of 31,000 African native-born residents.

You can get good papusas because Salvadorans make up the largest single group of Latin American residents — 32,000 out of 102,000 from Latin America.

We all know Annandale, Va., is known as Little Seoul. Well, the Census numbers bear that out, of the 170,000 people born in Asia in Fairfax County, 30,000 are from Korea. But what should be evident to anyone paying attention, the Indian and Vietnamese presence is also big. Fairfax has 29,000 people who were born in Indian and 23,000 born in Vietnam.

Not to leave out Europe, but let’s face it, the numbers are weak compared to the rest of the world. Fairfax has 25,000 people born in Europe. The single largest group are the Germans with 3,600.

Bottom line, if you are looking for a foreign story, start in your own neighborhood.

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Using Sports To Make A Global Connection

Friday night (9/4) the U.S. men’s soccer (football) team played the Peruvian national team in a friendly match in Washington, DC. It was an exciting and fun game. (Yes, I was there.)

The total number of folks at the game came out to just a bit more than 28,000. From just looking at the crowd, about half were supporting Peru.

And that got me thinking…

How many Peruvians are in the Washington, DC area?

Fortunately, the U.S. Census Bureau can tell me that.

Here are some basic numbers:

Location Peruvian Population Population
Washington, DC 1,400 620,000
Maryland 19,000 5,800,000
Montgomery Co. 13,000 972,000
Prince Georges Co. 1,700 863,000
Baltimore Co. 1,000 805,000
Virginia 34,000 8,100,000
Alexandria 1,600 149,000
Arlington Co. 1,500 208,000
Fairfax Co. 15,000 1,100,000
Prince William Co. 4,600 402,000
TOTAL DC AREA 39,800 5,119,000

So, we now see the raw numbers – as of 2013. What percentage is the Peruvian population of the geographic areas?

Location Peruvian Population Peruvians As Percentage of Total Population
Washington, DC 1,400 0.23
Maryland 19,000 0.33
Montgomery Co. 13,000 1.34
Prince Georges Co. 1,700 0.20
Baltimore Co. 1,000 0.12
Virginia 34,000 0.42
Alexandria 1,600 1.07
Arlington Co. 1,500 0.72
Fairfax Co. 15,000 1.36
Prince William Co. 4,600 1.14
TOTAL DC AREA 39,800 0.78

Assembling that information took about 15 minutes using the Census Bureau website. That amount of time included looking at – and recording – the numbers for 2009-2013.

So, even though the Peruvian population in the greater Washington, DC area is less than 1 percent, the US-Peru game provided an opportunity to look at the 40,000 or so people who came from Peru and settled in the area.

Especially when you think that 28,000 people showed up for the game and it looked as if half of those in attendance were supporting Peru. For the math-challenged, that is about 14,000 people, or about one-third of all the Peruvians in the area.

No matter how you look at it, that is a lot of people.

What kind of work do they do? Yes, we all know the best chicken in the area is Peruvian-style rotisserie. But what other areas of the local economy do Peruvians fill?

Why did the Peruvians in the area come here? Why not someplace else?

These are all questions that could have been asked in a run up to the game or as a follow up to the game. But, alas, I saw nothing in the DC area media about the Peruvian population.

The lack of creativity to find these little, but significant, ways to link a local community to the rest of the world is a shame.

Part of the role of a free and independent press in a democracy is to educate the people about things to help them be informed participants in that democracy.

How can voters make a decision about immigration of international trade when the press is dominated by political arguments about who will build a bigger fence or who will be the first to call for an embargo of imports?

Immigration is more than people crossing the border without proper documents. And trade is more than trying to bring back jobs that will never come back. The issues are complex and personal at the same time.

  • What are the stories of the immigrants?
  • What skills and benefits do they bring to the United States?
  • How has trade affected their desire to live or leave the United States?

These are questions that need to be asked regularly and of different communities. The reasons about 40,000 Peruvians came to the DC area are most likely different than those of the Indians or Koreans in the area.

What are those differences? And why do they matter?

Doing these kinds of stories does not require any foreign travel. All it requires is for an editor and a reporter to be curious about the local community and then to find the proper hook to help tell the stories.

The opportunity in the DC area was lost on the Peruvian community. Maybe the Boston papers will pick up on the Brazilian community connections in time for the US-Brazil friendly September 8.

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Foreign visitor information readily available

The trick to putting things into context is getting the right information.

With all the recent talk of illegal immigration to the United States, it is sometimes useful to look at legal immigration before going off on a bender on immigration law.

Fortunately the Department of Homeland Security puts out a regular report on the numbers of people coming — legally — across the US borders and where they come from. (I’m sorry, from whence they came.)

The bottom line is that the top 5 countries that sent visitors to the USA last year were:

  • Mexico – 17,980,784
  • United Kingdom – 4,566,669
  • Canada – 4,445,88
  • Japan – 4,298,081
  • Germany – 2,359,681

Brazil was in a close sixth place with 2,143,154 entering the US. (By the way — and this is an old story — a Florida business group did a survey about six years ago that showed a direct link between US visas issued in Brazil and jobs created in Florida. It is worth reviewing this piece.)

California and Florida — 11,182,804 and 8,089,139 respectively — were the top two desitnation sites. Kinda looks like a lot of tourism to me. And toursim means jobs and a more favorable foreign exchange situation.

There is a lot of information in this report that can easily be fodder for some great local-global stories.

One of the data points I liked was the growing number of foreign journalists coming to the United States with their families. That means they are coming to stay for a while. That means more coverage of the US overseas and more income for the communities where the journalists are going to live. (Granted, some could be for just a short time to cover a story and then go home, but even so, the numbers are impressive.)

Representatives of foreign media and their spouses and children:

  • 2013 – 45,827
  • 2012 – 44,472
  • 2011 – 51,459

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Filed under Connections, Immigration, Jobs, Story Ideas, Trade