Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

Asian Journal: Census: Asian Americans still fastest-growing racial group in US

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ASIAN Americans comprise America’s fastest-growing racial group, according to data released by the United States Census Bureau.

The Asian American population grew by 19 percent between 2010 and 2015. Meanwhile, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) are the second fastest-growing group, rising at 13 percent during the same period.  In comparison, the nation’s overall population grew by 4 percent. Today, there are an estimated 21 million Asian Americans and 1.5 million NHPIs living in the country.

In 2015, the Census Bureau reported that for the first time in history, more than half of the children born in the US were minorities. In California, New Mexico, Texas, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia, more than half of the general population come from a minority background.

California and Hawaii house the largest Asian American and NHPI populations. Some of the fastest growing NHAPI communities are in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Montana and Indiana. In the past five years, Arkansas saw a 30 percent increase in its AANHPI population.

Much of the growth from the Asian American and NHPI communities is the result of immigration, according to the Census Bureau.

Asian Americans are more likely to become American citizens than other racial groups. Fifty-nine percent of Asian immigrants complete the naturalization process, versus 47 percent of the immigrant population at large. China and India are the leading countries of origin for recently sworn citizens. Vietnam and Taiwan have the highest naturalization rates at 76 and 74 percent, respectively. For the Filipino population, 68 percent of immigrants end up becoming American citizens. There were 1.26 million naturalized Filipinos in the country in 2013.

“Asian Americans are a disproportionately immigrant community,” said Joanna Lee, senior research analyst for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA).  “Understanding the incredible social and economic diversity of these growing population groups is critical in understanding how best to address their needs.”

Despite their expanding presence in America, neither of the major political parties have done enough to engage the Asian American and NHAPI community, according to Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (AAAJ | AAJC) Executive Director Mee Moua. During a panel discussion on Monday, June 20, she said polling performed by the advocacy group suggested that 62 percent of Asian Americans had not been contacted by representatives of the Democratic Party during this election cycle, while 74 percent said they were yet to hear from the Republican Party.

“That’s not building democracy,” said Moua, challenging elected officials to keep up with the nation’s “changing demographic realities.”

With their growing numbers, Asian Americans will have an influential role in shaping the country’s future political landscape, according to a 2015 study released by UCLA and the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. The Asian American electorate is expected to double by 2040, reaching 12.2 million.

“Asian Americans have the potential to be the margin of victory in critical swing votes during the next six presidential election cycles,” according to the authors of the study. (By Eric Anthony Licas / AJPress)

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