Defining the problem
Who Are They?: Immigrants Fill Queens
By Michael Rehak
With nearly half of this borough’s residents born outside of the United States, and from almost all countries in the world, Queens stands alone as the most diverse place on Earth.
Don’t believe it? Just look at the 2000 Census, which shows statistics on where Queens residents are from.
In Queens, 46 percent of some 2.2 million dwellers hail from countries other than the U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Island Areas. More than half of the population speaks a language other than English at home.
Census figures estimate 61 percent of residents are a nationality other than White or African American. A growing 25 percent said they are Hispanic or Latino, giving them the highest total after whites and blacks.
The Asian population is the next largest group, with 17.6 percent, followed by 11.7 percent of the population who said they are “Some Other Race.” Next, 6.1 percent classify themselves in the “Two or More Races” category and lastly less than 1 percent count themselves in the American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander category.
The contrast between Queens and the rest of the country is obvious when you see that barely more than 11 percent of the 284 million people living in this country in 2000 were foreign born, according to the Census. That’s 18 million. A full 1 million of them live in Queens.
Of that 18 million, a full 45 percent are between 25 and 45 years old (a median age of 32), with just more than 10 percent above the age of 55.
One key factor that has brought about the national debate is that the number of immigrants entering the U.S. rose by 50 percent from 1990 to 2000. More than half of them lived in one of three states: California had the most, followed by New York then Texas.
But many believe that the Census does not count for those here illegally – an estimated 11 to 12 million throughout the country, including an estimated 600,000 here in New York City. The thought is that only by passing a new immigration law that allows those here illegally to come out of hiding will we ever know how many people there really are in this country, in our city and in Queens.