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America's Melting-Pot Cities

America's Melting-Pot Cities
Reuters

Immigration is a powerful driver of the economic growth and development of American cities and metros. As many of half of all recent Silicon Valley start-ups count a foreign-born American as a member of their founding team, according to recent studies.

The map below, from my Martin Prosperity Institute colleague Zara Matheson, shows the number of newly naturalized American citizens by metro. It's based on newly released data from the United States Office of Immigration Statistics on foreign nationals who were naturalized as American citizens in 2011. 

Note the huge bubbles in the Bos-Wash corridor, greater Miami, Chicago and Northern and Southern California:

Below are the metropolitan regions with the most naturalized citizens in 2011. New York tops the list, followed by Los Angeles and Miami.

  1. New York City - 99,153 (14.3 percent of total)
  2. Los Angeles - 62,373 (9 percent)
  3. Miami - 55,560 (8 percent)
  4. Chicago - 27,670 (4 percent)
  5. San Francisco - 22,046 (3.2 percent)
  6. Washington, D.C. - 20,591 (3 percent)
  7. Boston - 18,834 (2.7 percent)
  8. Houston - 18,467 (2.7 percent)
  9. Dallas - 16,048 (2.3 percent)
  10. Atlanta - 14,335 (2.1 percent)

According to the statistics, 51 percent of all new citizens (aged 18 years or older) naturalized in 2011 live in these ten metros.

Three of these top ten metros (Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.) have a majority of immigrants who are highly-skilled (they have a college degree or higher), according to a Brookings report, while four of them (Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, New York) have an immigrant workforce that is balanced between low (didn't finish high school) and high-skill labor. 

When we control for total population size (by looking at the number of naturalized citizens per 100,000) the picture changes, as the map below illustrates. While the East and West Coasts still boast significant concentrations, the bubbles are not quite so large, and there are dots across the interior of the country. 

Now Miami tops the list, with San Jose second. Greater New York drops to fourth, San Francisco is fifth and L.A. seventh. Here's the top ten based on newly naturalized citizens per 100,000 people.

  1. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL - 998
  2. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA - 615
  3. El Centro, CA - 584
  4. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA - 525
  5. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA - 509
  6. Naples-Marco Island, FL - 495
  7. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA - 486
  8. Stockton, CA - 444
  9. Trenton-Ewing, NJ - 426
  10. Merced, CA - 425
     

As I've long argued, when we make immigration more difficult, America loses out on innovation and entrepreneurship to other countries.

President Obama's executive order last week to stop deporting some young undocumented immigrants is a move in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go.

Top image: Reuters/Mike Segar

Richard Florida is Co-Founder and Editor at Large at The Atlantic Cities. He's also a Senior Editor at The Atlantic, Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, and Global Research Professor at New York University. He is a frequent speaker to communities, business and professional organizations, and founder of the Creative Class Group, whose current client list can be found here. All posts »

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