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Where Do Most Immigrants Come to America from Currently?

The migrant crisis at the border between the United States and Mexico has ignited political discord at the highest levels of Congress over the last two years, but there’s another aspect of this phenomenon that merits discussion. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the migrants who arrived at the southern border as part of caravans were from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the Central American nations collectively known as the Northern Triangle of the U.S. “War on Drugs.” These days, most migrants who cross the dangerous jungles of the Darien Gap in Panama are from Venezuela, Ecuador, Haiti, and China.

Rise of Chinese Migrants: Unusual Trends & Causes

According to reports from the Customs and Border Protection agency, citizens from the People’s Republic of China are the fastest-rising migrant group at the southern border. In 2021, fewer than 325 Chinese migrants were detained by Border Patrol agents. In 2023, that number surpassed 30,000. This unusual pattern of migration is mostly caused by the inability of the Chinese economy to rebound from the pandemic. This is despite many efforts by the Communist Party to address the rising unemployment rate, consumer inflation, and housing crisis. 

Global Immigration Trends: Asia Dominating U.S. Arrivals

What’s interesting about the surge of Chinese migrants at the border is that their country currently ranks third in the number of immigrants who arrive in the U.S. with visas. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported 114,121 such arrivals in 2021, which puts China behind the 202,567 immigrants from India. With these two nations, Asia is the continent where most immigrants are coming from, but their numbers don’t match those coming from Mexico, the country that has been the top source of total immigrants for about two decades.

It’s important to note that asylum seekers aren’t counted in the numbers listed above. If we assume the 30,000 Chinese migrants detained in 2021 intended to request asylum, the figure represents about 26 percent of the documented Chinese immigrants. 

Mexico: Leading Source of U.S. Immigration

Mexico continues to be the leading country of origin, with 424,791 immigration visa arrivals in 2021. Most Mexican citizens pursue family-based immigration. San Diego immigrants and migrants all around the country often retain immigration law firms to guide them through the process. If we compare the estimated number of undocumented migrants from Mexico with the number of immigrants with visas, the percentage is lower than 10 percent.

Indian Immigration: Skilled Workers & Visa Categories

In the case of India, the nation contributing the most immigrants after Mexico, the percentage of undocumented migrants is less than 5 percent. Keep in mind the USCIS figures cited here for Indian immigrants don’t include the estimated 500,000 skilled workers employed by American businesses across many visa categories. This is important to mention because non-immigrant work visas have become stepping stones for many Indians who pursue legal residence in the U.S. Of the 202,567 Indian citizens who arrived with immigration visas in 2021, more than 35 percent were formerly employed as skilled workers, many of them in the IT industry, or they were immediate relatives of former work visa recipients. Also worth noting is that quite a few of these former skilled workers from India submit their petitions and applications through immigration law firms because the adjustment of status from work visas to green cards is an intricate process.

If you would like more information about current immigration trends or you need the services of reliable, trustworthy immigration lawyers in San Diego, reach out to KS Visa Law today. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

June 2024