RAD Study: PH 4th Largest Country Source Of US Immigrants

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (JGL) – With 2.8-million Filipino immigrants and their children (the first and second generations) living in the United States, it makes the Philippines as the fourth-largest source of immigrants to the U.S. after Mexico, China and India.

The Filipinos account for 4.6 percent of the U.S.’s foreign-born population as they naturalize at a higher rate than other U.S. immigrants.

But the Philippines is the world’s third-largest remittance-receiving country after India and China. The Philippines received $24.5-billion during 2012, amounting to 9.8 percent of the Philippines’ total gross domestic product (GDP). Of this remitted amount, Filipino U.S. immigrants are the top source of remittances by sending $10.6-billion to the Philippines in 2012.

According to a Washington, D.C.-think tank, the Rockefeller Foundation-Aspen Institute Diaspora Program (RAD) that published the study dated July but was made public only Monday (Oct. 21) in the Migration Policy Institute, also in Washington, D.C., Filipinos are the second-highest rate (67 percent) to naturalize among the 15 groups of immigrants from Bangladesh, Columbia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Salvador and Vietnam.

Based on MPI analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010-2012 American Community Surveys and the 1980 and 2000 Censuses, the first generation Filipinos in the U.S. had a median age of 48 while senior citizens over 65 make up about 17 percent.

Filipino immigrants are more likely than the general U.S. population to have completed a bachelor’s degree “but are less likely to have advanced degrees.”

Filipinos are “about as likely as the general population to be employed , and are slightly more likely to work in professional and managerial occupations.”

The study also revealed that Filipino households have a reported median income of $74,000, or $24,000 above the median for all U.S. households and 18 percent of Filipinos were in the top 10 percent of the U.S. household income distribution.

The biggest numbers of Filipino immigrants are found in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, and in a Hawaii. Honolulu has the highest concentration of Filipino immigrants, which make up nine percent of the metro area’s population.

The study also revealed that the Filipino diaspora has also established numerous, well-funded organizations in the U.S., whose core missions fall in any of four broad categories – aid for the development of the Philippines; health, educational or housing services to the Filipino community in the U.S.; societies for medical professionals; and veterans advocacy.


These organizations are located in California. They include all the six of the groups that posted revenue exceeding $1 million in their most recently available Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filings. Among these organizations are Operation Samahan, PhilDev (formerly known as Ayala Foundation USA), Searh to Involve Pilipino Americans and Gawad Kalinga, U.S.A.

The study said as colonial subjects after the Spanish-American War in 1898, Filipinos were considered U.S. nationals and were subject to few restrictions “until decolonization process began in the 1940’s.” They migrated to the U.S. since 1900s as students, veterans, war brides, laborers, and in recently years, as professionals and as relatives of Filipinos already established in the U.S.

In 1980, there were approximately 500,000 Filipino immigrants in the U.S., making up about 3.6 percent of the total U.S. population. In 2012, the Filipino share had increased to 4.6 percent to the total population.

About 1.23 million U.S.-born individuals had at least one parent, who was born in the Philippines, representing the sixth-largest second-generation population in the U.S. Some 53 percent of the second-generation individuals reported having two Filipino immigrant parents. About 38 percent had one parent, who was born in the U.S.

About 54 percent of second-generation individuals were working age (18 to 64), 42 percent were under 18, and three percent were aged 65 and older. The Filipino second generation had a median age of 20, the highest median age of the group while the 65 years and older Filipinos were tied with Mexico among the 15 groups.

Economic hardship, political repression and close ties with the U.S. motivated continued emigration from the Philippines after the country gained independence in 1946.

The study also noted that for many years “Filipino sailors were denied veterans benefits, U.S. citizenship, and advancement thru the military ranks, but the U.S. government moved towards resolving these inequities in the 1980’s and 1990’s although several veterans’ groups continued to advocated for further changes.”

From 2002 to 2012, 649,000 people from the Philippines were granted lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, making up 5.6 percent of the total LPR admissions. About 79 percent of these got their green cards thru family reunification, the largest of these are spouses and children of U.S. citizens under age 21. About 21 percent gained LPR status as employment-based preference, like temporary workers such as nurses. Only 10 Filipino nationals (0.04 percent) received asylum in 2011 and no Filipino refugee arrived  in the U.S. as refugee that year.

For the same period (2002-2012), Filipinos entered U.S. 50,000 times as student visas and 97,000 times as temporary workers. Individuals holding these visas may enter the U.S. more than once. So, the number of entries does not correspond to the number of people.

The study noted that two decades of corrupt, authoritarian rule under President Marcos followed by another 24 years of governments plagued by economic stagnation, corruption, repression, political violence, and military conflict left many in the diaspora disillusioned with and alienated from the Philippine government.

It said, “However, diaspora relations have improved considerably since the election of President Aquino III in 2010, although confidence in the system remains low and most diaspora engagement remains focused on family or charitable contributions.”


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