By Randolph E. Schmid
Associated Press (Sept. 18, 1999)
WASHINGTON - In some ways, the American
population of today is beginning to resemble
that of 1850, with nearly one resident in 10 born in another country. But the
resemblance is largely statistical, with the l9th-century influx coming
largely from E Europe, while today's new arrival is more likely to be Asian or
During the 1990s, the nation's foreign-born
population increased nearly four
times faster than that of the native-born population, the Census Bureau says
in a report released Friday.
As of July 1, 1998, there were 25.2 million
foreign born U.S. residents-- 9.3 percent of the population. That was up from
19.7 million in the 1990 census, when they were 7.9 percent of the population.
The current share is close to the 9.7
percent recorded in 1850, the first
year the Census Bureau asked people their place of birth.
"Right now the biggest immigration
groups are Hispanics and Asian-Pacific Islanders," said census
demographer Robert Perkins.
The number of foreign-born Hispanics grew 34
percent from mid-1990 through mid-1998, from 8.0 million to 10.7 million.
And among Asians and Pacific Islanders, the
increase was from 4.6 million to 6.4 million in the same period. Foreign-born
Asians outnumber native-born Asians, 6.4 million to 4.1 million.
During that time span, the foreign-born
population grew by 27.1 percent, nearly four times the 7.1 percent increase in
the native population, which increased from 228.9 million to 245.1 million.
The foreign-born share has been steadily
increasing since its low point of 4.7 percent of the population in 1970.
However, it remains well below the peak of 14.8 percent in 1890.