“New Americans in California”: The #s on Our Growing Numbers


February 2, 2012

By Jenalyn Sotto, Communications Intern at the Asian Law Caucus For longer than recent memory, every decade brings with it a plethora of changes: (r)evolutionary fashion trends, a series of technological advances, two (and a half) presidential terms, three Olypmic games, and the U.S. Census. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Facebook Page lauds itself as “[the] trusted source for quality statistics about people, places and our economy.” While its scope of information collecting remains unparalleled in its field–save for perhaps the State Government Tax Collections–rarely does the ordinary U.S. person (resident or citizen) see more of the U.S. Census’ data than the small, or sometimes lengthy, questionnaire during data-collecting. But during this election year, where the stakes are even higher for under-represented communities, it is vital that we know and acknowledge changing demographics.  The Immigration Policy Center released a detailed set of infographics on Latino and Asian immigrant populations taken from–you got it!–the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 Census. Updated from the released data and special reports from the 2010 Census and the 2010 American Communities Survey and re-released with state-specific infographics for distribution, the study entitled “STRENGTH IN DIVERSITY: The Economic and Political Clout of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the United States” serves to breakdown, demystify, and debunk popular tropes about the growing immigrant populations with specific emphases on the Latina/o and Asian populations through numbers. Referred to as “New Americans,” the study enumerates the national and state-by-state economic and political growth of foreign-born naturalized Latina/o and Asian Americans as well as their native-born children.

For California:

California’s New American population is robust and makes California robust.

  • More than 1/4th of Californians are immigrants. *
  • More than 1/2 of Californians are Latina/o or Asian–and they vote. *
  • Immigrant workers, entrepreneurs, and taxpayers are integral to California’s economy. *
  • Immigrant, Latina/o, and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add hundreds of billions of dollars and more than a million jobs to California’s economy. *
  • Most native-born Californians have experienced a wage gain from immigration. *

Therefore, California policies sensitive to the Latina/o and Asian populations should be considered with great legislative and community, grassroots care. Over half of the state identifies as Latina/o or Asian! But, as made evident by campaigns past and present, diversity in these groups causes mobilization difficulties. The issues of immigration policing in California alone makes heads spin–what more when it comes to small and medium business tax reform, redistricting, voting rights, language access, healthcare, education, public health and safety, and government representation? This California infographic–and all other state infographics–is the proverbial tip of the iceberg, only going so far to as to whet your appetite by leaving that almost insatiable craving for clarification, qualification, and denouement. This offering by the Immigration Policy Center should serve as a first course for the type of awareness and data collection that our community organizations, legislators, and local officials should enact in order to better cater to the growing New American populations. Even more important, New Americans should become better versed in their numbers in order to harness that salient power. The national discourse has been long dominated by the see-saw of ambivalence and disfavor (heavy on the disfavor) towards immigrants and their progeny, but with the American imaginary increasingly interchanging “immigrant” with Asian or Latina/o it is high time for our communities to seize the day(ta) and make ourselves well and truly known. *: These statements were taken from the Immigration Policy Center’s The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Golden State (Updated January 2012).

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