How South Asian Americans Are Building a New American Dream

An Indian-American civil rights lawyer and a Sikh who wears a turban to express his faith, Bhalla was elected in Novemb...

The increased visibility of South Asian Americans in popular culture mirrors the rise of this relatively new immigrant group in various walks of American life—in science, medicine, technology, business—and now increasingly in politics and public service, as exemplified by Ravi S. Bhalla, the new mayor of the largely white city of Hoboken, New Jersey, who, like many Sikh men, wears a turban. In recent years South Asians have been one of the fastest growing immigrant groups in the United States, increasing in population from 2.2 million in 2000 to 4.9 million in 2015. About 80 percent of the demographic is Indian, with a median annual household income of $100,000—nearly double the median for all U.S. households.
Even though some communities with roots in South Asian countries, like Bangladeshis and Nepalis, are generally far less affluent, the overall success of South Asian Americans is no mystery. It can be partly explained by U.S. policy, which since the 1960s has selectively encouraged educated foreign workers and high-performing students to immigrate. Owing to its large English-speaking population, a result of British colonialism, and the quality of some of its educational institutions, India became a major source of such talent. And family-based immigration opened the doors to a broad array of South Asians.

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