Reading the WSJ today, it appears that China has overtaken Mexico as the number one country for immigrants entering the United States as of 2013. It's not as surprising as it would seem at first blush. This is after all census data. Illegal immigrants are mostly not answering the census I'd wager. so the numbers are skewed. India it turns out appears to be ahead of Mexico in the immigration volume game as well. Again, not a surprise.
For a decade, immigration from China and India, which boast the world’s largest populations, has been rising as increasing numbers move to the U.S. to study, work and unite with families already in the country.Meanwhile, immigration from Mexico has been declining due to improvements in the Mexican economy and lower Mexican birthrates. More recently, the U.S. recession also reduced illegal immigration from Mexico.
The real interesting part of the equation to me is whether the shift is indicative of the labor forces needs in the U.S. Does the U.S. need immigration right now, given the fragile economy? Does it need a more educated immigrant population versus a labor intensive immigrant population (setting aside the implied prejudicial notion of Asian versus Mexican immigrant skill sets - the implied notion is not my intention here)? Assuming the economy does eventually roar back to life, will it be a manufacturing driven recovery? Does manufacturing still need manual labor or does it now need more engineers? And given the slide in Mexican immigration, is that shift part of the reason for declining Mexican immigration?
Another question - how is the illegal immigration situation evolving now? Is it waning, or just as strong as ever? Since it is illegal, who really has a handle on the scope of it?
Fundamentally, does the U.S. - a nation built on immigration - still need it? Or has it matured demographically past that point? Does it still have room to grow through immigration? And if so, how is that driven? In the past immigration was welcome, but while ethnicity was diverse, culturally the immigration was more homogeneous, at least with respect to Christian values. That has changed but to what degree? And if you say it still matters because it's been part of the DNA of the nation since birth, are you going to be called a racist?
Being a melting pot of cultures does not mean you allow the original flavor to disappear. It's still important. If enough Muslim immigrants came to America and wanted to make Sharia law the law of the land, and did so, would it still be America at that point? No, it wouldn't. So it matters. At least I believe it does.