Immigrants are the key to America’s future.
Unless Uncle Sam shoots himself in the foot.
The 2011 Naturalization statistics tell the story.
Immigration Statistics And Trends
The total number of immigrants who became U.S. citizens in 2011 was 694,193.
This was an increase from 2010, but a decrease from the years immediately preceding 2010.
As a naturalization attorney, the fluctuation does not surprise me. Immigration law, after all, has become more politicized year-by-year since the mid-1990s.
The reduction is more dramatic when viewed decade-by-decade. For example, when 2000-2010 is compared to 1990-2000, one easily spots a large drop in the number of naturalized citizens.
In part, such swings have been the product of the up-and-down public attitude towards new immigrants.
In the 1980s, the Reagan administration promoted immigration policies which led to an increase of immigrants who became legal residents. By the 1990s, many of these immigrants were eligible for citizenship and applied for naturalization.
By the mid-1990s, the public sentiment changed in a manner hostile towards newcomers from other nations. Immigrant restrictionists began to dominate elections. Political changes tightened various pathways for immigrants to earn legalization.
Fewer immigrants entered the U.S. This led, in turn, to the slowdown in naturalization applications during the following decade, 2000-2010.
But there’s more than meets the eye.
The immigration statistics reflect far more than mere numbers.
The immigration policies go much deeper than just turning away individuals seeking to become part of the United States family.
And unless U.S. policy makers begin to comprehend the global, as well as national, trends, our country will suffer a rude awakening by 2040.
2011 DHS Naturalization Report: A Snapshot Of The Present
New Citizens By Country Of Birth
Viewing the newly naturalized U.S. citizens by county of origin, the Department of Homeland Security 2011 Naturalizations Report shows nearly 50% come from only 10 countries. The other 50% are spread out among all other countries of the world.
When the data is broken into regions, it shows 36% of immigrants naturalizing in 2011 were born in Asia, followed by 34% from North America and 12% from Europe.
Between 2009 and 2011, the number of naturalized citizens from all regions, except Africa and South America, decreased.
Overall, the total number of immigrants earning citizenship fell from 1,046,539 in 2008, to 743, 715 in 2009, to 619,913 in 2010, to 694,193 in 2011.
The percentage drop from 2008 to 2011 is 34%.
The top ten countries in 2011:
- 1. Mexico
- 2. India
- 3. Philippines
- 4. China
- 5. Columbia
- 6. Cuba
- 7. Vietnam
- 8. Dominican Republic
- 9. Jamaica
- 10. Haiti
In 2010, the ten countries with the highest rate of naturalized citizens were Mexico, India, Philippines, China, Vietnam, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica.
In 2009, the ten countries with the highest rate of naturalized citizens were Mexico, India, Philippines, China, Vietnam, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, South Korea, and Columbia.
As this short summary shows, Jamaica and Haiti have joined the top ten list. They replaced El Salvador and South Korea.
New Citizens By Age
- 35 to 44 years old (27.5%)
- 25 to 34 years old (23.7%)
- 45 to 54 years old (17.9%)
- 55 to 64 years old (11.7%)
- 18 to 24 years old (9.8%)
- 65 years and older (8.1%)
New Citizens By Gender
- Female (54.4%)
- Male (45.6%)
New Citizens By Marital Status
- Married (64.3%)
- Single (21.9%)
- Unknown (13.8%)
New Citizens By Area Of Residence
73% of all persons naturalizing in 2011 resided in the top ten states. California was first (22%), followed by Florida (13%) and New York (11%).
As the table below indicates, 51% of new citizens live in just 10 metropolitan areas of the United States. The other 49% live in various communities throughout the country.
- New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NY-PA (14.3
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA (9.0%)
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL (8.0%)
- Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI (4.0%)
- San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA (3.2%)
- Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV (3.0%)
- Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH, GA (2.7%)
- Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX (2.7%)
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX (2.3%)
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA (2.1%)
Being a Hemet immigration lawyer, I’m surprised that the Inland Empire area, once the seventh largest region for newly naturalized citizens, has been replaced by the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta region of Georgia.
I suspect the Georgia area will not stay in this position much longer. Since the state legislature began passing some of the nations’s harshest anti-immigrant laws, immigrant families have started to abandon the state.
Why More, Not Less, Citizens Are Essential For American’s Health
The decreasing numbers of naturalized citizens does not bode well for America’s future.
As Joel Kotkin and Erika Ozuna wrote in America’s Demographic Future, the United States should be less concerned about too many newcomers than with the consequences of drastically reduced rates of immigration.
The prevailing view of some Americans is that the country is being overrun by rampant, uncontrolled immigration.
During a period of deep economic pessimism and wrenching change, Kotkin and Ozuna assert, such beliefs are understandable.But they’re wrong.
Contrary to public perception, global population growth rates have fallen.In addition to diminished birth rates, educational levels have increased and economic conditions have improved in many countries.
Combined, these factors will lead to a greater reduction in U.S. immigration and naturalization totals.
In fact, as the DHS figures discussed above show, the trend has already started.
Why is this significant?
The number of future American job seekers will drop.
Since the birth rate of native-born Americans is too low to sustain the country’s economic needs, the shrinking pool of immigrant workers, skilled and unskilled, will undermine America’s role as a global economic superpower.
There is still time to prevent such a future.
But it requires U.S. political leaders strong enough to silence anti-immigrant fervor and to design policies for immigrants which build pathways to legalization, to obtain citizenship, and to become full-fledged members of society.
In other words, it requires Uncle Sam to open his eyes before pulling political triggers.
By Carlos Batara, Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics