May 15, 2019
SAALT released its latest South Asian demographic snapshot today, revealing a community in the U.S. that’s growing almost as fast as it is changing.
By 2065, Asian Americans are on track to be the largest immigrant population in the U.S. The South Asian population in the U.S. grew a staggering 40% in seven years, from 3.5 million in 2010 to 5.4 million in 2017.
Key demographic facts:
- The Nepali community grew by 206.6% since 2010, followed by Indian (38%), Bhutanese (38%), Pakistani (33%), Bangladeshi (26%), and Sri Lankan populations (15%).
- There are at least 630,000 Indians who are undocumented, a 72% increase since 2010.
- There are currently at least 4,300 active South Asian DACA recipients.
- Income inequality has been reported to be the greatest among Asian Americans. Nearly 10% of the approximately five million South Asians in the U.S. live in poverty.
- There has been a rise in the number of South Asians seeking asylum in the U.S. over the last 10 years. ICE has detained 3,013 South Asians since 2017. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol arrested 17,119 South Asians between October 2014 and April 2018 through border and interior enforcement.
The South Asian community in the United States includes individuals who trace their ancestry to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The community also includes members of the South Asian diaspora – past generations of South Asians who originally settled in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, Canada and the Middle East, and other parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands. South Asian Americans include citizens, legal permanent residents, students, H‑1B and H‑4 visa holders, DACA recipients, and undocumented immigrants.
SAALT’s Interim Co-Executive Director Lakshmi Sridaran said, “As we witness this unprecedented growth in our communities, it is more important than ever that the needs of the most vulnerable South Asian populations are met. South Asians are impacted by the full spectrum of federal immigration policies — from detention and deportation to H‑4 visa work authorization and denaturalization to the assault on public benefits. An accurate Census 2020 population count is essential to distributing critical federal funding to our communities. A citizenship question on the census would chill thousands of community members, resulting in a severe undercount, with at least 600,000 South Asians in the country not being counted and thousands more deterred. And, this means even fewer resources to the communities who need it the most.”
SAALT’s demographic snapshot is based primarily on Census 2010 and the 2017 American Community Survey. We encourage community leaders, government entities, policymakers, and journalists to use this data to better understand South Asian Americans and help inform their engagement with this community.