Immigration has been a hot topic in the United States, particularly in the months leading up to and since the election in November 2016. Many of us have certain preconceived notions about the people groups that make up the majority of the immigrant population in each state; a recent publication by Bank of America Merrill Lynch includes a map that tells the real immigration story, a map that clearly outlines non-Christian religious affiliation and data that shows us where the United States is headed demographically speaking, an issue that will affect how the Washington of the future handles immigration.
Let’s start by looking at immigration. Here is the map from the BofAML’s publication showing the non-Mexican source of immigrants for each state:
The states with the highest immigrant populations include California (Filipinos), New York (Chinese), Texas (Indians) and Florida (Cubans). Roughly 500,000 immigrants arrive in the United States each year. According to statistics from the Department of Homeland Security, in fiscal 2015, a total of 1,051,031 persons obtained lawful permanent residence status in the United States, up from 990,553 in fiscal 2013. The majority of these persons were from Asia (405,854) with just over 185,000 coming from China, India and the Philippines combined. A total of 439,228 came from the Americas including 157,227 from Mexico, 146,086 from the Caribbean and 54,178 from Cuba. A total of 98,677 came from Africa and 90,789 came from Europe.
Now, let’s look at non-Christian religious affiliation. In this era where religious affiliation is often associated with violence in the homeland, let’s look at the largest non-Christian religion by state:
As you can see, outside of Christianity, Islam in the most popular religion in 20 states mainly located in the midwest and southern states, followed by Judaism in 14 states located mainly in the northeast and Buddhism in 13 states located mainly in the western parts of the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, there are roughly 3.3 million Muslims of all ages living in the United States (2015 data), making up roughly 1 percent of the total U.S. population. Here is a graphic from Pew showing how the proportion of Muslims is expected to double as a percentage of the total U.S. population by 2025 while the proportion of Jews is expected to decline as a percentage of the total U.S. population:
Interestingly, California, the nation’s most populous state by a wide margin, is only 39 percent white. Again, according to Pew, this is what the composition of the United States looked like in 1960, 2011 and what it will look like in 2050 when the white population is outnumbered by non-whites 47 percent to 53 percent:
It is interesting to see how the demography of the United States has changed over the past three generations and how these changes are expected to continue despite the current administration’s efforts to block immigration, particularly of certain people groups. The traditional Christian and Jewish religious blocs are also seeing their traditional stronghold disappear to some extent with significant growth in Islam and Hinduism, a change that will certainly have an impact on how Washington handles the immigration hot-button issue in the future.
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