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Foreign-Born Residents Flocking To Sunshine State…Emigrating From N.Y. To N.J.; Diversity Increasing In Garden State

Foreign-Born Residents Flocking To Sunshine State, Survey Finds

By Mark Schlueb | Sentinel Staff Writer

September 3, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.

Nearly one of every six people living in Orange County was born in another country, according to Census statistics released Tuesday.

An estimated 146,705 of the 946,484 people in Orange County -- or 15.5 percent -- are foreign-born, the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey determined.

The trend places Florida fourth in the nation in the percentage of foreign-born residents at 17.9 percent. In the country as a whole, the foreign-born population grew to more than 33 million in 2002, slightly larger than the entire population of Canada. That's an increase of more than 5 percent over 2001.

The percentage of foreign-born residents in Orange County is the fourth-highest in Florida, behind Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.Miami-Dade leads the nation at 51.4 percent.Orange County is 65th in the nation.

Lyn Roberts, a native of Liverpool, England, thinks she knows why so many people are moving to the United States.

"There are more opportunities here," said Roberts, who sells British groceries and merchandise from an Orlando store and over the Internet. "You tend to work harder over here, but at the end of the day you're further ahead."

Roberts' Vineland Road store, British Supermarket, caters to more locals than tourists, but "local" doesn't mean born locally, she said.

"We see Irish, Scottish, a lot of people from South Africa -- they're from all over the world," she said.

In Central Florida, more residents were born in Mexico, Cuba and Colombia than other Hispanic countries. Central Florida also boasts a large Vietnamese community.

Regions with the largest foreign-born communities can expect the trend to continue, Florida State University Professor Carl P. Schmertmann said. Immigrants tend to move to areas where well-established ethnic communities provide a support system.

"In a way, it's very much like Irish immigration to the East Coast," Schmertmann said. "They moved to New York and Boston because they had cousins and aunts and uncles already there."

About 52 percent of the nation's foreign-born population is from Latin America, 27 percent from Asia and 15 percent from Europe.

"The growth of the nation's foreign-born population reflects how attractive this country remains, both politically and economically, for people around the world," Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon said.

Immigrants Emigrating From N.Y. To N.J. ; Diversity Increasing In Garden State


The Record

September 3, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Stella Figueredo moved from her East Side Manhattan high-rise apartment to a house in Cliffside Park last December, and became part of a significant trend that is changing the face of New Jersey.

Immigrants and New Yorkers are moving in, diversity is on the rise, and natives are moving out. That's the demographic picture of New Jersey emerging from newly released U.S. Census Bureau numbers that show a state undergoing dramatic population changes.

The influx of immigrants and migration across the Hudson River from New York boosted New Jersey's population by 450,000 from 1995 to 2000. The final important contributing factor to the population growth: More New Jerseyans were born than died.

According to a census survey released today, New Jersey ranks third, behind California and New York, in the proportion of its foreign-born population.

Figueredo, 39, moved here, with her mother and daughter, in search of "a better quality of life, cost of living, and larger living spaces." She found it all.

"I gave up a two-bedroom apartment I rented for $3,500 a month for a three-bedroom house that I rent for $1,900," she said. "And then I brought my two aunts from California to live with us."

And she found much more. "Living in New York, I had lost contact with nature," she said. "New Jersey gives me many things I had lost in New York, the greenery, the fresh air, the birds, and the squirrels. Once I started living in New Jersey, I asked myself what took me so long to move here."

If not for the influx of people like Figueredo, New Jersey would be losing population, as residents leave the state in search of even less crowded and costly expanses throughout the United States.

Today's census report notes that the nation's immigrant population grew to more than 33 million in 2002.

Immigrants represent 11.8 percent of the U.S. population and accounted for 44 percent of the population growth last year. The survey found that about 52 percent of the immigrants are from Latin America, including 30 percent from Mexico. Twenty-seven percent are from Asia and 15 percent from Europe.

"The growth of the nation's foreign-born population reflects how attractive this country remains, both politically and economically, for people around the world," said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon. He said the new data gives government and business leaders "a moving picture of one of the fastest-growing population segments in the United States."

Nationally, of the top 10 counties with the largest proportions of immigrants, only one - Hudson County - was not in New York or California. With 39.1 percent foreign-born, Hudson County ranked third, behind Miami-Dade County, Fla. (51.4 percent) and Queens County, N.Y. (46.6 percent). Passaic County (28.4 percent), Bergen County (27.4 percent), and Morris County (16.9 percent) ranked 14th, 19th, and 59th.

A series of other Census Bureau reports released in the past month show that, from 1995 to 2000, New Jersey:

* Gained 257,600 immigrants who came directly from abroad. India, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic led the list of countries contributing to the state's growing diversity. Of all foreign-born people coming in, 10 percent were black, 25 percent were Asian, and 37 percent were Hispanic. The state gained another 4,100 foreign-born people from other states.

* Lost 187,000 U.S. natives to other states. The main destinations were Florida, the other Southeastern states, and Pennsylvania.

* Gained 109,400 people from New York. That's because 97,600 New Jerseyans moved to New York while 207,000 New Yorkers moved to New Jersey. New York was the only state from which New Jersey had a significant net gain.

Other recently released census numbers show New Jersey as one of nine states that saw a net gain of foreign-born people and a net loss of natives.

In other words, while New Jersey had more immigrants in 2000 than in 1995, it had fewer native-born residents.

As of the 2000 Census, the six "gateway states" - California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey - were home to 21.3 million immigrants, about two thirds of the nation's foreign-born population. That includes 5.6 million who came to the United States - 60 percent through the gateway states - between 1995 and 2000. New Jersey was the only major port of immigration that saw a net gain of foreigners and a net loss of natives.

"That's because while some other states are closing doors to the immigrant community, New Jersey is opening its doors," said Figueredo, who has firsthand knowledge of that community.

She is not only an immigrant - born in Paraguay, raised in Argentina - she heads the American Immigrant Federation, a Manhattan agency helping illegal immigrants legalize their residency status here. She hosts Spanish-language radio and TV shows where she offers immigration advice. And she recently opened a second office in Elizabeth.

She said some undocumented immigrants are coming here because they are leaving states with more stringent anti-immigration measures. "In New Jersey, immigrants are finding jobs, paying less for rent, and living better," Figueredo said. "But if that was to change, if anti-immigrant measures are passed in New Jersey, you would see people moving elsewhere."

And that is likely to happen here, she said, as undocumented immigrants who obtained driver's licenses in the past are unable to renew them now that more stringent regulations have been established.

"In New Jersey, many people have no choice but to drive to get to work," she said.

"And if they can't drive, they can't work. If they can't work, it could create a wave of immigrants leaving New Jersey, just like they fled from California and other anti-immigrant states."

That whole situation concerns Figueredo, who argues that "the immigrant population is the foundation of everything" that functions well in this country.

"If an immigrant doesn't cut the onions," she said, "you don't get onion on your steak. If the undocumented immigrants were to stop working for a few days, this country would be paralyzed."

Through her office window, overlooking Broadway in the heart of Times Square, Figueredo can see the American melting pot on the sidewalks bellow her. But when she looks toward New Jersey, she sees the place where she is realizing her American dream.

She recently bought a house in Paramus. "I'm very happy. I feel like a new person," Figueredo said. "We're moving at the end of the month. Now I can cook a barbecue in my back yard. Now my daughter can have the dog she always wanted."

Two weeks ago at Garden State Plaza, she and her daughter, Johanna, 18, bought their first puppy, "Pepper," a Beagle.

"As a mother, it's great to be able to give my daughter a better lifestyle," Figueredo said. "And I feel I have found that in New Jersey."

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