The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered the departure of three million of its citizens to other countries. This, in turn, has opened an age-old question. How many people will one country admit from other nations, and why?
For decades, the U.S. had an extremely open immigration policy. From 1892 until 1954, 12 million people came into America through just one place–Ellis Island, off the coast of New York City. And, that was a small fraction of the total number of immigrants who came to this country over that period.
The American attitude toward immigrants has changed considerably. One only has to look at the Mexican border to see how complex and difficult entering the U.S. can be.
Immigrants who do make it into the U.S. have vastly different experiences when they live here. To determine the best city for immigrants, 24/7 Wall St. developed an index based on various socioeconomic disparities among the native and foreign-born populations in all U.S. metropolitan statistical areas using five-year data from the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.
Most of the best cities for immigrants have a relatively high share of residents that were born outside of the country. Nationally, 13.6% of U.S. residents were born outside of the country, yet in most of the cities, the share of the population that is foreign-born is over 18%.
Though the numbers fluctuate by the year, around 1 million immigrants have gained legal resident status each year over the last few decades. Additionally, tens of thousands more refugees arrive in the U.S. annually, with many receiving refugee status.
The best city for immigrants is San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA. Here are the details:
> Foreign-born population: 38.6%
> Median income of foreign-born households: $128,161 (108.7% of native-born)
> Foreign-born unemployment rate: 3.7% (1.2 ppts less than native-born)
> Foreign-born population who are naturalized U.S. citizens: 53.1%
> Total population: 1,987,846
The San Jose, California, metro area ranks as the best place in the country for immigrants. The area, which makes up a large portion of Silicon Valley, has the largest median household income for foreign-born residents, at $128,161. This is over $10,000 more than what native-born households in the San Jose area earn. No other major metro area has a foreign-born median household income of even $100,000.
A college education can help boost job opportunities and earning potential, and 53.4% of all foreign-born adults 25 and older in the San Jose area have at least a bachelor’s degree, 3.9 percentage points higher than the native-born degree attainment rate. The San Jose area has the second-highest share of foreign-born residents of any metro area, at 38.6% – nearly triple the nationwide share of 13.6%.
Methodology: To determine the best city for immigrants, 24/7 Wall St. developed an index based on various socioeconomic disparities among the native and foreign-born populations in all U.S. metropolitan statistical areas using five-year data from the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. The index includes disparities between native- and foreign-born residents in these measures, each at full weight: the percentage of adults 25 and over with a high school diploma, the percentage of adults 25 and over with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the percentage of adults 16 years and over in the civilian labor force that is unemployed, median household income, poverty rate, homeownership rate, and the percentage of the employed population 16 years and overworking in management, business, science, and arts occupations. Foreign-born residents as a percentage of the total population, the percentage of foreign-born residents that are naturalized citizens, and the growth in the foreign-born population as a percentage of the total population from 2015 to 2019 were also included in the index at full weight.
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