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Chinese immigration spikes in New York City

By Kelly Chung Dawson in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2013-12-23 11:18

Chinese immigrants in New York will soon outnumber immigrants from the Dominican Republic, currently the largest immigrant group in New York, according to a new report from the Department of City Planning.

China also contributed in large part to the city's record-breaking high of more than 3 million immigrants in 2011, sending more legal immigrants than any other country between 2002 and 2011.

The "Newest New Yorkers" report, which presents demographic analysis of data from the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey, is accompanied by an interactive map on the city planning website through which visitors can search and analyze the geographic distribution of immigrant communities.

"Having an accurate picture of where the foreign-born reside, and how they're doing with respect to their housing, education, employment and economic status enables us to target support that helps immigrants establish themselves and participate in the diverse opportunities our city offers," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. "Our nation has the opportunity to finally enact real immigration reform in Congress, and this edition of the Newest New Yorkers is an important resource that helps to build a case for reform so that we can continue to be a magnet of opportunity."

Since 1970, New York City's immigrant population has increased to 37 percent of the total population from 18 percent, and in numbers alone would now form the third-largest city in the US, according to the report. The surge in non-European immigration has drastically reshaped the ethnic makeup of a city that was originally dominated by European white culture, the report noted. Their numbers have also contributed to staunching the outflow of city residents: For the first time in more than 60 years, more people are moving into New York than leaving.

Immigrants from the Dominican Republic lead with 380,200 residents, followed by a Chinese immigrant population of 350,200, and 186,300 Mexican immigrants. However, Dominican population growth averaged 3 percent in the last decade, while Chinese immigration jumped 34 percent during the same period, the report said. If that growth remains steady, Chinese immigrants will outnumber Dominicans in the next few years.

Conversely, the European immigrant population has seen a drop to 16 percent of the total population in 2011 from 64 percent.

Immigration has always been part of the New York narrative, said Arun Peter Lobo, deputy director of city planning's population division, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

"It's an evolutionary change as opposed to revolutionary," he said. "Similar stories, new players."

Among New York City boroughs, Queens counts the biggest immigrant population, with almost half of residents being foreign-born. Settlement in the borough has followed the path of the 7 train; In Brooklyn, which counts the second-largest immigrant population in the city, immigrants have settled in a horseshoe formation that traces the B, Q and N train lines. The Bronx also saw a major jump, with the largest numeric growth in immigration, according to the survey.

The report also indicates that immigrants play a significant role in the city's economy, accounting for 47 percent of all employed residents across all major industries. They are also disproportionately represented in small business and entrepreneurship, and comprised almost half of all first-time residents in new housing units, the report said.

"The 2013 edition of The Newest New Yorkers demonstrates that immigrants are a valuable and recognizable part of New York City's past and present, and continues to be a rich part of our future," said Fatima Shama, the city's commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. "Our neighborhoods, economy and cultural fabric all thrive when we better support and engage NYC's Newest New Yorkers and having this data allows us to focus our efforts in key neighborhoods reaching the breadth and beauty of our city's immigrant communities because we know their success is our city's success."

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