Many American cities are distinctly shaped by ties to other parts of the world. Washington has its Ethiopian community, and the restaurants that have come with it. Chicago has its Mexican neighborhoods, Minneapolis its Hmong culture, Miami its links to Cuba.
These differences — products of proximity or history or happenstance — are part of what makes New York feel culturally different from Atlanta. And they reflect the fact that New York and Atlanta look different to people living abroad.
Census data on where people move can reveal a sense of these varied international connections. More than 15 percent of people who move in any given year now to the Washington metropolitan area come from somewhere in Africa. In metro New York, just 5 percent do. In Miami, the share of international movers from Africa is less than 1 percent.
Using new five-year American Community Survey data from 2009-2013, last week we looked at where people move when they leave one major metro area in the U.S. for another. Today we're mapping from the same dataset people who move into the 35 largest U.S. metros from abroad. That's about 1 million moves a year.
All of these movers are not necessarily foreigners or immigrants. Some of them may be Americans returning from a stint in the Peace Corps or an overseas assignment with the State Department. This data reflects people who moved to a U.S. metro who lived outside of the country the previous year, and it captures people regardless of legal status.
One trend that emerges: In nearly every one of the 50 largest metros — except for Miami, San Antonio and New Orleans — the largest share of foreign moves come in from Asia. The Census defines Asia in this data as including South Asian countries like India and Middle Eastern ones like Israel. Russia is counted as part of Europe.
In contrast, here is the map of moves from Central America:
And here are Europe and South America:
The Caribbean map is notable for the vast share of movers heading to two places: Miami and New York. From 2009-2013, more than 25,000 people moved to New York from the Caribbean each year; more than 27,000 moved to Miami.
Those maps give a sense of national scale: There are lot more people coming into the U.S. from Asia than Central America (a picture that undermines the conversation we often have about immigration as a largely Mexican phenomenon). This last chart, in contrast, gives a sense of local proportion, of how the breakdown of international moves varies by individual metro area.
New York looks quite different from Houston and Boston and Baltimore: