NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 15, 2006

Mexicans with little education and limited English skills are leading a wave of newly arrived immigrants who are increasingly fanning out from traditional gateway states, Census data released today indicate.

According to Jeffrey Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center, from 2000 to 2005 non-traditional gateway states have had a large influx of immigrants:

  • The foreign-born population in South Carolina grew 48 percent.
  • Indiana registered a 30 percent gain. 
  • Nebraska increased to 34 percent.

The dispersal of new immigrants to parts of the Southeast and Midwest that are unaccustomed to foreign-born populations in large numbers may be fueling national concerns about illegal immigration, some population analysts say.

And as a new wave of immigrants push further inland, many traditional immigration gateway states have seen a decrease among their populations:

  • In Florida, California, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, the share of the undocumented population living in those states dropped from 80 percent in 1990 to 60 percent in 2005.
  • The number of illegal immigrants in the United States has jumped from about 3.5 million then to about 12 million today.

The statistics are becoming crucial as recent arrivals to the United States settle in new places.  Mexicans are making a huge impact on states where they only trod lightly in the 1990s, says William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution.  "The gateway states are not dominating the influx anymore.  It's hop scotching across the country."

Source: Haya El Nasser, "Census: Newest arrivals fan out," USA Today, August 15, 2006


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