How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Asian Americans and religion: Report highlights religious diversity, contrasts

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A Korean Christian church in Oklahoma, October 2007

A month after a Pew Research Center report on Asians becoming the nation's fastest-growing immigrant group faced criticism for downplaying Asian Americans' diversity, Pew has come back with a new report that focuses on the diversity of their religious beliefs.

While it doesn't address the socioeconomic and educational diversity and disparities that critics pointed out in the last month, the report from the Pew Forum on Religious & Public Life does adjust some misperceptions, while revealing several facts that aren't particularly well known beyond Asian American diasporas.

Here's one: Asian Americans are neither predominantly Buddhist nor Hindu. In the United States, there are more Asian Americans who are Christian (42 percent) than any other religion.

Many of these are Christians are Filipinos, who are traditionally Catholic, and Koreans, many of whom are Protestant. The percentage of Buddhists (14 percent), Hindus (10 percent) and Muslims (4 percent) is small by comparison. Still, as migration from Asia has increased, so has the the nation's share of Buddhists and Hindus. Buddhists now account for one in seven Americans, according to the report, and counted together, the share of Americans who practice Buddhism and Hinduism is about the same as that of those practicing Judaism (about 2 percent).


On the underrepresented 'model minority'

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Business signage in L.A.'s Koreatown, January 2008

report released late last month by Pew Research Center on Asians becoming the nation’s fastest growing new immigrant group is still drawing reaction, not so much for what it reported, but for the complexities it didn't. The report highlighted various aspects of Asian American life in the United States, and on its face, it read like good news. Asian Americans were depicted in general (this is key) as doing pretty well, attaining high educational achievement and earnings.

Soon, though, Asian American community and civil rights groups began criticizing the report as painting a highly diverse group with a broad brush as a "model minority," and not being sensitive to deep disparities that exist among and within Asian immigrant groups in terms of education, earnings, health care, representation and other factors.


Asian America: Half a dozen facts as Asians become the biggest group of new immigrants

Source: Pew Research Center

As the historic wave of migration from Mexico of the late 20th century slowed to a standstill, a new chapter in United States immigration history was slowly unfolding.

Early last year, census numbers from California showed that Asian Americans had eclipsed Latinos in population growth. And as California goes, so goes the nation. Now that immigration from Latin America has receded, immigration from Asia has surpassed it, according to a Pew Research Center report released today. More immigrants from Asia arrived in the United States in 2010 than from Latin America, with authorized and unauthorized migration considered.

None of this happened overnight, of course. Asian immigrant communities in the United States have very deep roots. More than a hundred years ago, Chinese Americans became the first immigrant group in the U.S. targeted by exclusionary immigration laws, at a time when migration from China was prevalent. In the last half-century, though, as more immigrants from Southeast Asia and India arrived, the Asian American population grew to a record 18.2 million in 2011, or 5.8 percent of the total population. That's more than five times what it was in 1965.


Racial, political lines divide Americans on whether immigrants threaten 'traditional values'

Source: Pew Research Center

There's a comprehensive new Pew Research Center report on American values, a far-reaching one based on surveys that takes in trends since the late 1980s. It charts the rise in partisan polarization, as well as where Americans lie in terms of their values regarding everything from business to religion.

And of course, their values regarding immigration and race.

A section of the report that focuses on immigration and race suggests that while a majority of Americans still prefer tighter immigration restrictions, the percentage of people sharing this view is declining. But people remain divided over whether newcomers threaten what they perceive as "traditional American customs and values."

And interestingly, there's a racial line drawn. In spite of a bump in optimism in 2009, shortly after the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, nearly two-thirds of black respondents said they believed there has been little if any improvement in the position of black Americans in recent years, a situation worsened by the economic downtown.


Interracial marriage: Who is most likely to 'marry out,' and where

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A popular Q&A on this site last year explored who is more or less likely to marry outside their own racial or ethnic group, why, and where in the U.S. they are more likely to do it. Now, the Pew Research Center has further distilled the data on multicultural love.

The new Pew report charts the rise of interracial marriage, with the share of new marriages between spouses of different races or ethnicities having gone up to 15.1 % in 2010. The overall share of existing interracial or inter-ethnic marriages stands at 8.4 percent, an all-time high. It's a far cry from 1980, when only 3 percent of all marriages and less than 7 percent of new ones involved partners of different racial or ethnic groups.

Why the difference? Changing demographics play a part, but in its summary, Pew attributes the trend in part also to changing attitudes, with more than four in ten Americans saying that "more people of different races marrying each other has been a change for the better in our society, while only about one-in-ten think it is a change for the worse." Now for the details: