NJ used to have more immigration than today
About 1.9 million immigrants live in New Jersey.
According to Janice Fine, a professor of labor studies, immigration and employment relations at Rutgers University, Latinos make up about 45 percent of our foreign-born population and Asians comprise about 30 percent of all immigrants.
“But what’s so interesting about New Jersey is what a melting pot we are in comparison to other states where one immigrant group dominates. In New Jersey, we have very significant shares of Latin Americans, of Asians, Europeans and Africans.”
She said many immigrants from a range of European countries are now living in New Jersey as well as people from Russia and other areas of the former Soviet Union. “And in parts of Essex County the African population is quite high.”
James Hughes, a Rutgers University professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said New Jersey’s broad diversity is nothing new.
At the start of the 19th Century, more than 25 percent of the state’s population was foreign-born.
Back then, most immigrants were either from Italy, Germany or Ireland. But today New Jersey is dominated by Latinos and Asians.
He said some Baby Boomers may not realize New Jersey has always had a rich immigrant history because in the 1960s and 70s, the percentage of immigrants was below 10 percent, compared with 22 percent now.
“They think this is something different. It’s different from the world they grew up in, but the world they grew up in was the aberrant. It was the time of least diversity in New Jersey,” said Hughes.
He added, “This latest wave of immigration that we’ve had the past 30 or 40 years is characterized by its internal diversity, because now we’ve probably got 75-plus different nations contributing to the foreign-born population.”
Johanna Calle, who came to the Garden State as a child from Ecuador, is now program coordinator for the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.
She said even though there are so many different immigrant groups here, most of the foreign born, once they settle in, feel right at home.
“I think the New Jersey culture is pretty strong. I think many of us who have migrated here are proud to be New Jerseyans,” she said.
“Nobody understands your exit on the Turnpike and the Jersey Shore the way you do when you’ve lived here, so you really do grow to love that and it becomes part of who you are.”
Calle added Ecuador will always be a part of her, but “I’m from Jersey, I’m very proud to be from Jersey. I think a lot of immigrants enjoy that and embrace that and take it on as part of their community.”
Mapping NJ's immigrants
Zoom in and click on a town to see the geographic breakdown of where its immigrants come from as well as that town's top immigrant nationality. The towns are color-coded based on the region of the world where most of the immigrants come from: Yellow for Latin America, green for Asia, blue for Europe and red for Africa. In some cases, the top nationality differs from the top region.
Best viewed on a desktop computer.
Source: U.S. Census 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-year estimates
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com