Bud Kennedy

Immigration lesson: Most new Texans are from Asia, not Mexico

The international enrollment at UT Arlington is reflected by a past International Week exhibit. Then-student Fares Haddad holds a Jordanian flag in a file photo.
The international enrollment at UT Arlington is reflected by a past International Week exhibit. Then-student Fares Haddad holds a Jordanian flag in a file photo. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

One in six Texas residents was born in some other country.

And probably not the country you think.

More immigrants now come to Texas from Asia than Latin America, at least based on trends since the 2013 figures published this week by the official state demographer.

In 2013, an average of about 150 immigrants per day came to Texas directly from the Pacific Rim, south Asia or the Middle East. That figure had more than doubled since 2005 and by now surely has surpassed the 2013 average of 152 Latin American immigrants per day.

That’s on top of another 88 Asian-born immigrants each day who move here from another state, usually California.

Yes, Texas soon will return to a Latino majority overall, mostly because of births of native Texans. But the Asian-American population is growing fastest.

UT San Antonio professor Lloyd Potter is the state demographer tasked with tracking population change.

“Our narrative in Texas … is on migration from Mexico,” he told the Houston Chronicle, calling the immigration shift “interesting and significant.”

Basically, Texas is now more of an international state than ever, he said, and migration patterns from California will make it more so.

If your neighbor is still bellyaching about immigration from Mexico or Latin America, tell him or her that peaked in 2005. Central American immigration is increasing some, but now most American immigrants come from China or India.

None of this news is going to make Parker County rancher and Weatherford Democrat guest columnist Larry M. Jones very happy.

Jones, a retired U.S. Navy commander, seems like a fine fellow. He writes a homespun column, “Now Hear This.”

But this week, he wrote that America’s “increase of Asian, Middle Eastern immigrants and African populations … have had a harder time of adapting to American culture, far too often refusing altogether.”

By American culture, I think Jones means his culture.

I checked the Constitution. It describes American culture well. American culture is about freedom and liberty.

I think immigrants are adapting to that quite well.

Jones went on to say that because earlier immigrants were mostly of “strictly European descent,” that made “acceptance of our values” easier.

(There’s that first-person.)

The Texas report came days after the Washington-based Pew Research Center reported those European descendants will be a plurality but no longer a majority in America by around 2050. Latinos will be the second largest ethnicity, Asian-Americans third.

According to the Pew poll, today’s immigrants are also the best-educated ever, and we know little about them.

For example, we overestimate the percentage of immigrants here illegally. And only 7 percent of Americans knew most immigrants come from Asia.

As always, immigrants enrich our culture, not threaten it.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.