Immigrants in US Increasingly Educated, Enterprising, from India, China


Manasi Gopala, second from right, rows during her sculling class at Lake Wheeler in Raleigh, N.C., Aug. 30, 2016. When Gopala immigrated to America, she finally got the chance to row crew.

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA: When Manasi Gopala immigrated to America, she finally got the chance to row crew.

As a child in India, she had dreamed of the sport from watching Olympic telecasts. Now, twice a week, she pulls a pair of oars as her scull glides along tree-lined Lake Wheeler, far from her birthplace of Bangalore.

Gopala is among throngs of educated Indians who have moved in recent years to North Carolina’s tech-laden Research Triangle and other areas across America. A 39-year-old software developer, she peppers her emails with an adopted “y’all.” She became a U.S. citizen three years ago.

“America had given me the opportunity to pursue my own life,” she said.

Increasingly, the face of U.S. immigration resembles Gopala.

Changing face of immigration

For all of Donald Trump’s talk of building a border wall and deporting 11 million unauthorized immigrants who are mainly Hispanic — and for all of the enduring contention over illegal immigration — immigrants to the U.S. are now more likely to come from Asia than from Mexico or Latin America.

And compared with Americans overall, immigrants today are disproportionately well-educated and entrepreneurial. They are transforming the nation in ways largely ignored by the political jousting over how immigration is affecting America’s culture, economy and national security.

As of three years ago, Census figures show, India and China eclipsed Mexico as the top sources of U.S. immigrants, whether authorized or not. In 2013, 147,000 Chinese immigrants and 129,000 Indians came to the U.S., compared with 125,000 Mexicans. Most of the Asian immigrants arrived in the United States legally, through work, student or family visas.

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