Images of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island are uniquely American. The island was the gateway to the United States for so many immigrants, in fact, that it’s estimated over 100 million Americans, or 40 percent of the population, can trace their ancestry to at least one man, woman, or child who entered the country through Ellis Island.
However, as Pewresearch.org reports, while New York lost the top spot in terms of immigrant population to California back in 1980 (and by 2014 New York’s population was less than half that of California), the Big Apple may be about to drop back another spot on the list as Texas’ immigrant population reached 4.5 million in 2014, equaling New York’s total.
At various points between 1850 and 2014, the top three spots in terms of immigration were various combinations of Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. For example, Illinois had the third largest immigrant population pretty consistently between 1870 and 1940. Today, however, the top three states of California, Texas, and New York account for almost half of the immigrant population in the entire country. A quarter of U.S. immigrants live in California while 11 percent live in both Texas and New York.
New York may no longer have the largest immigrant population, but the immigrant population it does have is more diverse than that of either California or Texas. Just under half of California’s immigrants, 41 percent, were born in Mexico. That number is even larger for Texas at 56 percent. Mexico has been the largest source of migration for Texas since 1870 and the largest for California since 1930.
New York, however, only has 6 percent of its immigrants born in Mexico and is split pretty equally between South and East Asia (24 percent), Central and South America (19 percent), Europe/Canada (19 percent), and the Caribbean (24 percent).
Additionally, about 25 percent of New York’s immigrant population ages 5 and older say they speak only English at home. Only 10 percent of immigrants over 5 say they speak only English at home in California and Texas.
Click the link below to see accompanying charts and a very interesting infographic showing how America’s source of immigrants has changed over time.