On Tuesday, the Pew Research Center released a study that found Asian-
Americans have surpassed Hispanics as the fastest growing racial group in
the U.S. Plus, the report showed that they're the highest earning and best-
educated. Host Michel Martin discusses the findings and the implications of
these demographic changes with three experts.
Copyright © 2012 National Public Radio®. For personal,
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, it's
June, the beginning of the summer wedding season and a lot of couples are
tying the knot, but what happens when your plans for a dream wedding in your
hometown are the subject of - well, let's say - opinions of complete
Well, that's what happened when one lesbian couple wanted to have their
wedding in Jamaica, where one of the brides was born. We'll find out how
they dealt with it. It's our latest conversation for LGBT Pride Month, where
we've been exploring different aspects of the LGBT experience. That's ahead
in the program.
But, first, we want to turn our attention to a new study that sheds yet more
light on who we are as Americans. The Pew Research Center is out with a
study that finds that Asian-Americans have surpassed Hispanics as the
fastest growing racial group in the nation. Also, Asian immigrants have
surpassed Hispanics as the largest group of new immigrants. It also finds
that more than 18 million Asian-Americans living in the U.S. are the highest
earning and best educated racial group in the country.
We wanted to talk more about what that means, so we've called on Paul Taylor
. He is the co-author of the study and executive vice president of the Pew
Research Center. Also with us in Washington, D.C., Benjamin Wu. He is the
vice chair of the U.S.-Asia Institute. He participated in a panel discussion
on the study sponsored by Pew. Also with us, Deepa Iyer. She is the
executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together and the chair
of the National Council of Asian-Pacific Americans. That's a coalition of 30
Asian-Pacific American organizations.
Welcome to all of you. Thanks so much for coming.
BENJAMIN WU: Thank you, Michel.
PAUL TAYLOR: Great to be here.
DEEPA IYER: Thank you.
MARTIN: Now, Paul, I'm going to start with you because I think the biggest
surprise for many people hearing this will be that Asian-Americans have
surpassed Hispanics as the largest group of new immigrants. Can you just
tell us how that happened?
TAYLOR: It happened over the course of the last several years. The lines
crossed, probably, in 2009 or 2010. A lot of the crossing of the lines is a
result of the very sharp reduction in inflows of Hispanics and that's
probably related to the very sour economy here. Jobs have been the magnet
for Hispanic immigrants. Probably also related to increased border
enforcement, the deportation policies, etc.
Despite the bad economy here, Asian immigration has continued to go up. It
has gone up dramatically, but the lines did cross, so now there are over 400
,000 Asian immigrants annually coming in. That's about 36 percent of all
immigrants coming in. Hispanics are about 31 percent. The remainder are
whites and blacks.
MARTIN: And the immigrants coming from the sixth largest Asian source
countries receive green cards based - what - on family members already here?
TAYLOR: The biggest route - pathway into this country is family
reunification. About two-thirds of Asians come through that pathway, but the
remaining third come through green cards, come through H-1B visas. There
are special provisions. Immigration law is very complicated, but for the
last 20 or so years, there has been something called the H-1B Program, which
is designed to ease the pathway for highly skilled students, you know, and
folks with highly skilled occupations. Asians have taken advantage of that
and, by far, they're getting the greatest number of those slots.
MARTIN: Among immigrants from these Asian nations, 27 percent received green
cards based on employer sponsorship. That's compared with eight percent of
other immigrants who did so this year. It's varied throughout the past
decade, but has been markedly higher for Asian immigrants than for others,
which is what we learned from your report. Yeah.
TAYLOR: This reflects their very high levels of education and high levels of
skills. This is an exceptional group of incoming immigrants. If you just
look at the immigrants who have arrived within the last few years from Asian
countries, more than six in 10 have their college degrees. This is twice
the share of immigrants from any other part of the world and it's twice the
share of Asians themselves 30 years ago, so one of the things that's
happened is, over the last several decades, in part because of H-1B programs
, in part because of changes in sending countries, you have an increasingly
high end - this is a highly skilled workforce of the 21st century.
And it's - you know, it's part of a more digitally interconnected world.
Particular strengths in science and engineering and some of the IT fields
and we see it both in education - 45 percent of all graduate degrees in this
country that are awarded in engineering are awarded to Asians, either
immigrants or U.S.-born Asians. It's a very high achieving population.
MARTIN: Benjamin, what's the takeaway for you from this report?
WU: Well, I thought the report was very comprehensive and voluminous and it
provided a lot of quantifiable data that will allow for Americans to fully
appreciate the spectrum of values, talents and other aspects of our life
that Asian-Americans can support. And I think the takeaway that I'd like to
see from those in the corporate world, in the political world, in education
fields, is that the Asian-Americans continue to play a very vibrant role in
the fabric of our society, that they bring many talents.
And, as a consequence, that corporations should continue to make sure to
market to that segment, that they continue to hire executives to lead those
corporations, that they put Asian-Americans on their boards, at law firms,
hire more Asian-American partners and...
MARTIN: You don't think they're doing that now?
WU: Well, I think that there is room for improvement. I think the figures
are demonstrating, in recent years, a growth, but not quite to the
representative levels of the population and I think what this report can do
is provide that foundation to better understand the role - the emerging role
of Asian-Americans in our nation and the need to be able to address Asian-
Americans as a viable and strong force for the future of our country.
MARTIN: Well, I mean, clearly, that's the takeaway. One of the things that I
was fascinated by were how many activist organizations sounded cautionary
notes about this material. Deepa, I wanted to ask you about this because I
think some people might find it puzzling. You know, the number of groups,
including yours, that said things like - you released a statement saying
that the study could lead some to draw conclusions that reflect inaccurate
stereotypes of Asian-Americans. Could you talk more about that? What is to
be - what's the problem with a report that says that people are hardworking,
well educated, even better educated than the rest of the population? There
are also some other values metrics, for example, about how highly marriage
is valued among Asian-Americans. So what are you concerned about?
IYER: Well, we think that this report is a really important one to start a
sorely needed dialog about Asian-Americans in this country because the
coalition that I'm here representing - we work daily with Asian-Americans
and organizations on the ground and we know both the successes and the
trials and tribulations that Asian-Americans face.
So, in terms of the framing and interpretation of the findings of this
report, it's really important to understand that the community's not a
monolith and that we can't use this information to think that it is the norm
across all Asian-Americans because, historically, our communities have
either been seen as model minorities or we've been put into the box of being
disloyal, suspicious or we've been put into a box of foreigners who take
And the reality is that none of these stereotypes are true. Right? Our
communities are extremely diverse, especially when you get into the subgroup
, disaggregation. So while we think that this report is a really good
jumping off point, we want Americans - we want the media - we want
stakeholders - to also understand that we need to have a fuller picture of
our communities and understand the needs and challenges that many face.
MARTIN: When you talk about disaggregating, talk a little bit more about
what you mean. You mean that, for example...
MARTIN: ...the experience of Vietnamese-Americans or Korean-Americans might
be very different from, say, South Asians, people from India? Even people
from India and Pakistan might be having very different experiences.
IYER: The community is absolutely diverse in those ways and, when you get
down to that disaggregation, we don't really have a lot of disaggregated
data. That's something that we're looking to research centers and government
agencies to do, but when you look at some of the statistics - for example,
we have 2.3 million Asian-Americans who are uninsured. We've got, in the
Southeast Asian community, 40 percent of Southeast Asians who are of ages
between 25 and 34 have not been to college.
When you look at the immigrant community, about a million of those who are
undocumented or actually of Asian-American descent and so what's important
is that we are able to lift up these stories and these experiences of
individuals who might not be making it just as much as we are in terms of
the success stories that we want to celebrate because it's really about what
stakeholders and government agencies will do with this information.
MARTIN: We're talking about a new study released by the Pew Research Center
that says Asian-Americans are the highest income, best educated and fastest
growing racial group in the U.S.
My guests are Paul Taylor. He's co-author of the study, the executive vice
president of the Pew Research Center. Also with us, Benjamin Wu, vice chair
of the U.S.-Asia Institute. He participated in a panel discussion sponsored
by Pew around the study. Also with us, Deepa Iyer. That's who was speaking
just now. She's the executive director of South Asian Americans Leading
Together and chair of the National Council of Asian-Pacific Americans.
Paul, talk a little bit about what Deepa was talking about, if you would,
just pulling apart...
MARTIN: Disaggregation is kind of a fancy word for pulling apart some of the
information about how different experiences of different groups of national
TAYLOR: It's a great point. It's a very heterogeneous community. We did a
survey of - a nationally representative survey of all Asian-Americans. We
did it in seven Asian languages in addition to English. Our respondents were
from 22 different countries of origin, so we're very proud that we had the
full breadth of the Asian-American experience represented, but then we also,
in effect, did six additional surveys. We had enough sample size to be able
to say something with representative samples about the six largest country
of origin groups - China, Korea, Japan, India and the Philippines.
And we find what's interesting is that, if you add them up into a single
group, you find that they are very distinctive compared with the U.S.
population as a whole on some of the socioeconomic metrics you've talked
about, on some of the attitudinal measures and the values.
But then, when you look inside and you compare the different groups, you
also find large differences. For example, on the high levels of education,
you have Indian-Americans. Seventy percent of Indian-American adults have a
college degree or more. Vietnamese-Americans, 26 percent have a college
degree or more. Similar differences on income, similar differences on
poverty rates. Some of the leading groups have poverty rates that are higher
than the U.S. population as a whole. Others have poverty rates that are
lower. And on and on it goes.
We looked at group relations. We looked at attitudes towards intermarriage.
This group - 29 percent of all recent Asian newlyweds married a non-Asian.
This is the highest rate of out-marriage of any race group in the country,
but very different patterns. The Indians are much less likely to do this
than the Japanese, for example, and on it goes.
MARTIN: I wanted to - Benjamin, I wanted to talk about some of those
relationships within groups and other groups. Some Asian-American groups are
more positive about relations with whites and other U.S.-Asian groups, but
less positive about relations with Hispanics, most negative about relations
with blacks. In fact, Korean-Americans most likely to say that they don't
get along with blacks. Compared with other U.S.-Asian groups, Korean-
Americans have an especially negative view of relations with blacks and
along with Vietnamese-Americans. It's a very - you know, there's a lot of
variation on this point and I just wanted to ask, does that concern you?
What do you make of that?
WU: Well, it's especially relevant, given the recent death of Rodney King
and the fact that we just had the 20th anniversary of the L.A. riots that
was precipitated by the tension between the Korean-American community and
the African-American community in Los Angeles. And then, given some of the
recent statements made by council member Barry here in Washington.
MARTIN: Marion Barry in Washington, D.C. He was talking about - made some
disparaging remarks about shops owned by Asian-Americans. I don't know if he
singled out Koreans, per se, but I take your point.
WU: But he - the point is that there needs to be more work done and the
survey results seem to suggest that there's maybe an openness for dialog,
but there needs to be more direct communication. There needs to be more
engagement between the Asian-American community and other organizations.
I think, if you look at the next generation of leaders in the Asian-American
community, everyone seems to be very open to not just a Pan-Asian approach
to demonstrate the collective strength of the Asian-American community from
the political commerce and a perspective that will strengthen the country.
MARTIN: Can I ask you about that, though? Do people with - and I'm not going
to make you the spokesperson for, you know, all groups because that would
be - no one likes that. But I am interested in whether you even ascribe to
the notion of Asian-Americans, kind of a Pan-Asian perspective. I mean, do
people really see themselves in that way in your experience? Or do they see
themselves as Chinese-American or Vietnamese-American or Indian or Pakistan
- you see what I'm saying? Do people...
WU: Well, I think...
MARTIN: Do you see yourself in this report? In the way this report describes
you, do you see yourself?
WU: I think that people see themselves as Asian-Americans, but they also
self-identify - for example, for myself, I know that I'm a Chinese-American
and there are Indian-Americans and other subgroups. And the Asian-American
umbrella, in a sense, is created by political organizations and other
structural organizations that made it easy to bring together a disparate
group of people from different nations.
But, as a result, though, this next generation of leaders had been
comfortable working within this Pan-Asian umbrella and, as a consequence, I
think we do see a great deal of support within the Pan-Asian and Asian-
Americans. For example, we have a record number of Asian-Americans running
for elected office on the federal level and, if you talk to the candidates,
they are receiving support from not just within - people within their own
ethnic group, but also from a great number of Asian-American supporters and
I think that everyone understands within the Asian-American community that,
in order to lift up their group, they need to also support the greater Asian
MARTIN: Interesting, too, but that's where I wanted to go next and we only
have about two minutes left, so make the most of it. I'm interested in your
take on what the implications of this report might be because we are in an
election year. Worth noting, there are only 10 members of Congress who are
Asian-American, compared - for those who are interested - with 43 African-
American members and 27 Hispanic-American members of Congress. So do you see
political implications of this new knowledge going forward? Sort of a new
consciousness and information around who Asian-American citizens are?
IYER: Sure. I think that Asian-Americans, along with our demographic growth
and our visibility in different parts of the country - we're growing in many
, many sectors and I think that politics is that arena, as well. There are
more voting age Asian-Americans now than ever before, so we are going to see
Asian-Americans being really engaged in the civic and political life of
But I think, overall, you know, the takeaway really is that we need to tell
a full picture of our communities and we need to make sure that we are not
perpetuating a one dimensional narrative about our communities because we
are so different.
I'll just leave you with a quick example. You know, if you're talking about,
say, a school system and a particular school, it's really important that
teachers and school systems understand that, while you might have, you know,
the future spelling bee champion in your classrooms, you might also have,
you know, students who feel bullied, Sehk-Muslim children who are being
harassed because of their name or religious affiliation. So it's really
important that people don't come away - at all levels, whether you're a
teacher or whether you're in state government, whether you are a politician
- with a one dimensional narrative about our communities.
MARTIN: Deepa Iyer is the executive director of South Asian Americans
Leading Together and the chair of the National Council of Asian-Pacific
Americans. Paul Taylor is the co-author of the Pew study, The Rise of Asian-
Americans, and executive vice president of the Pew Research Center. And
Benjamin Wu is the vice chair of the U.S.-Asia Institute. They were all kind
enough to join us in our Washington, D.C. studios.
Thank you all so much for talking about this very interesting report.
IYER: Thank you.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
WU: Thank you, Michel.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
【在 s***n 的大作中提到】
: On Tuesday, the Pew Research Center released a study that found Asian-
: Americans have surpassed Hispanics as the fastest growing racial group in
: the U.S. Plus, the report showed that they're the highest earning and best-
: educated. Host Michel Martin discusses the findings and the implications of
: these demographic changes with three experts.
: Copyright © 2012 National Public Radio®. For personal,
: MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
【在 m*****8 的大作中提到】