America’s Melting Pot Cities

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15. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
> Pct. born abroad: 23.0%
> Pct. of foreign-born gained citizenship: 50.4%
> Origin of largest immigrant group: El Salvador (13.7% of foreign-born pop.)
> Population increase due to international immigration, 2010-17: +5.4%

The home of approximately 200 foreign embassies, diplomatic missions, and international organizations, Washington, D.C. is one of the most ethnically diverse metro areas in the country. Some 3.5% of the population was born in Africa, and 8.4% in Asia — the largest and 11th largest shares of any U.S. city, respectively. Additionally, one-fourth of the population identifies as African American, more than twice the national proportion. Diversity has increased in recent years in part due to an influx of Hispanic residents. El Salvadorians now comprise 13.7% of the D.C. foreign-born population, the largest share nationwide.

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14. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
> Pct. born abroad: 26.7%
> Pct. of foreign-born gained citizenship: 28.4%
> Origin of largest immigrant group: Mexico (93.3% of foreign-born pop.)
> Population increase due to international immigration, 2010-17: +2.0%

The McAllen, Texas metropolitan area is on the state’s border with Mexico, on one of the busiest segments of the U.S.-Mexico border. McAllen is as close to a multinational city as any in the United States — over 90% of the city’s population is of Hispanic origin, and many of the public street signs are in both Spanish and English. McAllen is home to a substantial shopping complex for Mexican tourists, and the city also spends to recruit businesses from other parts of the world, including Asian nations like Japan and Korea. About 1% of the metro area’s population was born in Asia.

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13. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA
> Pct. born abroad: 24.6%
> Pct. of foreign-born gained citizenship: 31.7%
> Origin of largest immigrant group: Mexico (67.8% of foreign-born pop.)
> Population increase due to international immigration, 2010-17: +2.5%

The Santa Maria-Santa Barbara metro area is located in Southern California roughly six hours from the U.S.-Mexico border. The Santa Maria Valley is a leading producer of agricultural goods in California — with primary crops including broccoli, strawberry, lettuce, cauliflower, wine grapes, and celery. The area has attracted a large number of migrant farmworkers. Some 16.7% of Santa Maria residents today were born in Mexico, more than four times the 3.7% national share and the 11th largest Mexico-born population of any metro area. There is a 40.3% chance that any two Santa Maria residents picked at random would be from different countries, far more than the national diversity probability of 25.3%.

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12. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
> Pct. born abroad: 24.1%
> Pct. of foreign-born gained citizenship: 51.7%
> Origin of largest immigrant group: Mexico (44.4% of foreign-born pop.)
> Population increase due to international immigration, 2010-17: +3.6%

Almost one-fourth of San Diego’s population was born in another country, the fifteenth largest share among U.S. metropolitan areas. While Latin America, which includes South and Central America, accounts for the largest share of foreign-born metro area residents, San Diego also has above average shares of residents from Europe, Asia, and Oceania.

Like many of America’s melting pot cities, San Diego’s population is growing relatively quickly. It grew by over 30% every decade from 1970 through 2010, much of it due to international migration.

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11. Yuma, AZ
> Pct. born abroad: 26.8%
> Pct. of foreign-born gained citizenship: 46.2%
> Origin of largest immigrant group: Mexico (85.2% of foreign-born pop.)
> Population increase due to international immigration, 2010-17: +2.4%

Of the Yuma, Arizona metropolitan area’s 205,631 people, 62.0% identify as Hispanic or Latino, the eighth largest share of any city.

While many of the country’s melting pot cities have low unemployment, Yuma has one of the highest unemployment rates of any city. The unemployment rate has been at least double the U.S. rate for the last three decades. Currently the city’s jobless rate is 17.2% — nearly four times the 4.4% national figure and the second highest of any metro area.