Monday, July 2, 2012

Enter the Tiger Immigrants

When Americans debate immigration they are usually referring to the influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

We have ignored the fact that, since 2008 America has received more immigrants from Asian nations than from Hispanic nations.

Walter Russell Mead reports the striking statistics:

A report released this month by the Pew Research Center shows just how much the face of immigration has changed in the past few years. Since 2008, more newcomers to the U.S. have been Asian than Hispanic (in 2010, it was 36% of the total, versus 31%). Today's typical immigrant is not only more likely to speak English and have a college education, but also to have come to the U.S. legally, with a job already in place.

What's responsible for the change? The reasons include a rapidly falling birthrate in Mexico, dramatic economic growth there and the collapse of the U.S. residential construction industry—a traditional market for low-skilled, non-English speaking immigrants whose documentation was often subject to question.

Of course, Asian immigrants are less likely to cause trouble, so, we can safely ignore them.

Most often, Asian immigrants enter the country legal, with job offers in hand, bringing with them the good values and work ethic that more and more Americans have lost.

Since American parents and schools are more interested in puffing up children’s self-esteem than inculcating a work ethic and teaching science, math, technology, and engineering… Americans are not qualified for many new jobs.

Mead explains that Asian immigrants have a good work ethic and strong family values:

There also seems to be some truth in the "Tiger Mom" syndrome described by author Amy Chua. While 39% of Asian-Americans say their group puts "too much" pressure on kids to succeed in school, 60% of Asian-Americans think that other Americans don't push their kids hard enough.

Other family values are strong as well, according to Pew. Only 16% of Asian-American babies are born out of wedlock, in contrast to 41% for the general population. In the U.S., 63% of all children grow up in a household with two parents; the figure for Asian-Americans is 80%. Some 66% of Asian-Americans believe parents should have some input into what careers their children select and 61% think that parents have something useful to say about their children's choice of a spouse. The hard work and strong family values appear to pay off: Asian-Americans' median household income is $66,000 (national median: $49,800) and their median household wealth is $83,500 (national median: $68,529).

Mexicans took jobs that Americans did not want to do. Asians take jobs that Americans don’t know how to do.

No one knows how much time it will take, but eventually the wave of Asian immigrants will change the face of America. If Mead is right it will be a change for the better.

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