According to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Public Policy Institute of California, China has replaced Mexico as the country sending the most immigrants each year to California. The data shows that since 2005, the total number of immigrants who moved to California from China has tripled to 33,000, while the number of immigrants moving to the state from Mexico fell roughly 70 percent to 30,000. India, which sent about 29,500 immigrants to California last year, is also likely set to pass Mexico.
Emigration from Mexico has dropped substantially in recent years due to several factors including the deep economic recession of 2007 – 2009, falling Mexican fertility rates, increased border enforcement and a rise in deportations, and a decline in the growth of California jobs traditionally held by many Mexican immigrants including construction work and service-sector employment. At the same time, emigration from China and other Asian countries has grown mostly due to the increased demand of highly skilled workers within the technology industry. Many of these Asian immigrants have come to America on H-1B visas, which allow companies to temporarily hire foreign workers when there is a labor shortage. Many Silicon Valley companies are big supporters of the H-1B program, while critics maintain that the program takes away jobs from U.S. workers.
China is also sending many more students to California to attend college. System data shows that the number of University of California international freshman rose almost 600% from 2009 to 2015. Part of that trend is because international students pay nearly 3 times the tuition cost as in-state students, and the Universities have to accept more of these students paying higher tuition to offset years of budget cuts. California’s prestigious private universities such as Stanford also draw thousands of Asian students. There are also many Chinese reunification visas issued that allow family members of Californians to come to the state, although these can take more than a decade to obtain.