Migration Report: US top destination of Filipinos

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (JGL) – The United States is home to by far the largest number of Filipinos abroad, according to Migration Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank dedicated to an analysis of the movement of people worldwide.

In an article (http://bit.ly/2GO7IbH) on March 14 co-written by MPI’s Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova, quoting mid-2017 United Nations Population Division estimates, MPI Spotlight claims that aside from the U.S., the next top destinations of Filipinos include Saudi Arabia (584,000), the United Arab Emirates (539,000), Canada (528,000), Japan (239,000), and Australia (233,000).

Nowadays, most Filipinos in the United States who obtain lawful permanent residence (LPR status, also known as getting a green card) do so through family reunification channels, either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or through other family-sponsored channels.

Many also get green cards through employment preferences. Meanwhile, Filipinos are more likely than other immigrants to have strong English skills and have much higher college education rates than the overall foreign- and U.S.-born populations. They are also more likely to be naturalized U.S. citizens than other immigrant groups, have higher incomes and lower poverty rates, and are less likely to be uninsured.

Most Pinoys live in the Golden State 

Filipino Immigrant Population in the US | Source MPI

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau (the most recent 2016 American Community Survey [ACS] as well as pooled 2012-16 ACS data) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, the Spotlight provides information on the Filipino immigrant population, focusing on its size, geographic distribution, and socioeconomic characteristics.

In the 2012-16 period, immigrants from the Philippines were highly concentrated in California (44 percent), with Hawaii far behind at six (6) percent. The next four most populous states—Texas, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey—were home to 19 percent of the Filipino population collectively. The top four counties with Filipino concentration were Los Angeles and San Diego counties in California, Honolulu County in Hawaii, and Clark County in Nevada. Together, these counties accounted for 26 percent of Filipinos in the United States.

188K TNT’s

Although the vast majority of Filipino immigrants in the United States are legally present, approximately 188,000 were unauthorized (TNT’s or tago-nang-tago) or undocumented in the 2010-14 period, according to Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates, comprising less than 2 percent of the 11 million unauthorized population.

MPI also estimated that, in 2017, approximately 18,000 Filipino unauthorized immigrants were immediately eligible for the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. However, as of January 31, 2018, just under 3,800 Filipinos were active participants, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data. Overall, about 683,000 unauthorized youth were participating in the DACA program.

High health insurance coverage 

Filipinos have relatively high health insurance coverage rates compared to other groups. In 2016, seven (7) percent of Filipinos were uninsured, the same as for the native-born, compared to 20 percent of all foreign-born. Filipino immigrants were also more likely to be covered by private health insurance than the overall foreign- and U.S.-born populations.


Top concentrations by Metropolitan Area for Filipinos | Source MPI

The Filipino diaspora in the United States was comprised of nearly 4.1 million individuals who were either born in the Philippines or reported Filipino ancestry or race, according to tabulations from the U.S. Census Bureau 2016 ACS.

$33-Billion remitted to the Philippines

In 2017, Filipinos living abroad sent nearly US$33 billion in remittances to the Philippines via formal channels, according to World Bank data. Remittances more than doubled in the past decade, and represented about 11 percent of the country’ gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016.

In a previous separate MPI article (http://bit.ly/2psqSLO), as of December 2013, the stock of overseas Filipinos totaled slightly more than 10 million, including some 4.9 million permanent settlers (64 percent of whom are in the United States), about 4.2 million temporary migrants (mostly labor migrants, or OFWs, with Saudi Arabia hosting close to 1 million), and an estimated 1.2 million unauthorized migrants worldwide (primarily in Malaysia and the United States).

Filipinos are present in the far reaches of the globe, mostly because of work. Although the destinations of OFWs have diversified, to this day, the Middle East still receives the largest share, with 64 percent heading to the region in 2015, followed by Asia with 28 percent (see Figure 2). In 2015, six of the top ten destinations for both new hires and rehires were in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain), and the remainder were in Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia).

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