South Asian Americans Leading Together, an activist non-profit organization, says data show that the community has grown enormously over the last ten years, but so has the number of Indians here without proper documents.
Its latest report on a South Asian demographic snapshot today, reveals a community that is “growing almost as fast as it is changing.”
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. It also includes people here from 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.
The organization defines South Asian Americans to include citizens, legal permanent residents, students, H-1B and H-4 visa holders, DACA recipients, and undocumented immigrants.
The Indian community, according to SAALT, has grown nearly 40 percent (38 %) between 2010 and 2015. During the same period, the number of undocumented Indians has increased by 70 percent in the report found. The organization used the 2010 U.S. Census and the 2017 American Community Survey to reach its conclusions.
By 2065, Asian Americans are on track to be the largest immigrant population in the U.S., SAALT noted in a May 15, press release.
“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,” it said.
Some of the key findings include:
- 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.
“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,” SAALT’s Interim Co-Executive Director Lakshmi Sridaran is quoted saying in the press release. South Asians are impacted by the full spectrum of federal immigration policies, Sridaran said, “from detention and deportation to H-4 visa work authorization and denaturalization to the assault on public benefits.”
She made the argument that a 2020 Census would not record an accurate number if the citizenship status question was included in the form as that would “chill thousands of community members.”
If hundreds of thousands of South Asians are not counted it would ultimately result in fewer resources to help those in need, SAALT contends.