Immigrants reach 21 percent of NJ population

29 11 2007

A massive new wave of immigrants that began in the 1980s has pushed New Jersey’s population to 21.6 percent foreign born, according to a study released Thursday.

With immigrants arriving at a faster clip and growing numbers of non-immigrant residents moving to other states, the total is rapidly approaching the all-time high of 26 percent, according to the study by the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington D.C. The 26 percent figure was reached in 1910, when thousands of people arrived daily at Ellis Island.

The report found that the last seven years have been the highest period of immigration in history, both in New Jersey and nationally, with 1.5 million legal and illegal immigrants arriving in the country each year.

The Center for Immigration Studies is a think tank that lobbies for lower immigration levels. While other demographers did not agree with the report’s more ominous tones, there was no quibbling with the overall numbers.

“No nation has ever attempted to incorporate nearly 38 million newcomers into its society,” the report’s conclusion states, referring to the total number of foreign-born people living in the US. “Whatever one thinks of contemporary immigration, it is critically important to understand that its effect on America represents a choice” by the government to allow such high levels of immigration.

While New Jersey saw slower immigration during the 1990s than several other states, including New York, the growth has quickened, with 589,000 new immigrants arriving since 2000. Only Texas and California added more immigrants over that time period.

The children of immigrants now comprise 31 percent of all school age children in New Jersey. The study puts the number of illegal immigrants living in the state at 429,000. by Brian Donohue/The Star-Ledger NJ.COM

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