City of Bellevue, WA Recognized as Immigration Trend-Setter

ARTICLE | Jul 5, 2012

With a large, skilled, Asian immigrant population that contributes to its success as a high-tech center, Bellevue is apparently at the vanguard of a national trend. The latest evidence is a new report that shows Asians are now the fastest growing immigrant group in the U.S.

In "The Rise of Asian Americans," a study released June 19, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center reported that the influx of Asians -- the most educated and highest-earning population in the U.S. -- is helping the country's economy.

In Bellevue, Asians account for 28 percent of the city's population, the highest share of any city in the state. A significant number work for tech companies downtown, including Microsoft and Expedia. From 2000 to 2010, the number of Asians in Bellevue increased by 77 percent, to 33,659, making it the city's fastest-growing racial group.

Bellevue's diverse, high-powered workforce, will continue to attract international businesses here. Mayor Conrad Lee, who was born in China, hailed the Pew study for acknowledging the positive impact the country's growing immigrant population has.

"There is no doubt that our diversity makes our city stronger," Lee said, noting that businesses from India and China, the world's economic juggernauts, are coming to Bellevue because a network of skilled workers and compatriot CEOs is already here.

A Wall Street Journal article about the Pew study cited Maria Zhang, a Chinese national who launched a mobile technology company in Bellevue in late 2010. Nearly all of the employees at her small firm are from Asia. She told the paper that finding quality engineers is difficult.  

According to the Pew report, the bulk of Asians in the U.S. come from China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam. Chinese residents make up the largest portion of the Asian population in Bellevue, but over the past decade Indians have been the fastest-growing group. Fifteen percent of the state's Indian population lives in Bellevue,

In Bellevue, Indians are a distinct presence. In 2009, the government of India gave Bellevue a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, which stands outside the Bellevue Regional Library, to honor the people of the city where many Indian nationals have settled and found success.

The Pew study reported that Asians recently nudged Hispanics from the top spot for immigration. In 2010, about 36 percent of new immigrants were Asian, compared to 31 percent who were Hispanic.

Consistent with the scenario in Bellevue, the study noted, "Recent Asian immigrants are about three times as likely as recent immigrants from other parts of the world to receive their green cards -- or permanent resident status -- on the basis of employer rather than family sponsorship."

For the Rise of Asian Americans report, the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,511 Asian Americans by telephone over the first three months of this year, in English and seven Asian languages.

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