While Latin Americans, especially Mexicans, played a large role in U.S. immigration gains for the decades leading up to 2010, this is not the case now. Past Latin American domination of foreign-born growth has made an imprint on the total foreign-born population, where 51 percent claim Latin American origins (including 26 percent from Mexico), compared with only 31 percent from Asia. However, among net foreign-born gains that the nation experienced over 2010-2016, fully 58 percent come from Asia, compared with 28 percent from Latin America.So instead of fighting about the impact of poor immigrants from Mexico – note that the number of Mexican-born people in the US has declined since 2010 – we are now going to fight about the impact of educated immigrants from Asia. You can already see this happening in the admissions brouhaha at Harvard. I mean, who wants to compete against a million children of ambitious Asian immigrants?
Moreover, while Mexico is still the largest origin nation of the nation’s foreign-born population at 11.5 million, this population sustained a loss of over 135,000 between 2010 and 2016. China, India, and the Philippines, together comprising 53 percent of the Asian origin foreign-born population, gained a net of 1.3 million immigrants over the 2010-2016 period, which accounted for 63 percent of all Asian immigrant growth.
The other noteworthy shift in foreign born demographics is the higher education attainment associated with recent immigrant gains. Again, a comparison between the total foreign-born and 2010-2016 migrant gains is instructive. Among all 2016 foreign-born adults, ages 25 and older, three in ten hold college degrees and 51 percent have no more than a high school diploma. This nearly reverses for 2010-2016 net migrant gains, for which 52 percent hold college degrees and only 29 percent have not proceeded beyond high school (Comparable numbers for the 2016 U.S. native-born population are 32 percent and 37 percent, respectively).
One model of how the US will develop over the next twenty years would be that continued inflows of ambitious people from Asia, west Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere will swell the internationalist elite and lead to ever greater success for big American firms in the global economy. Meanwhile native-born white and black Americans may see their share of leadership slots shrink while housing costs in thriving cities rise out of their reach. Their political representatives may shout even louder for better treatment. Look for things like setting aside university slots for working class people or military veterans to be big flash points.