Making Census Of It: Borough's Asian Population Expanding Rapidly
Nearly half the population in Queens is from another country, but one immigrant group is growing at a much faster rate than any other in the borough. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
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There is great power in numbers and the Asian population is rapidly increasing theirs. With a half a million people living in the borough, U.S. Census results show that one in five Queens residents is Asian.
"It's amazing. It's really hard to believe sometimes," said one Queens resident.
What's even more remarkable is how fast the population has expanded. The South and Southeast Asian population grew nearly 31 percent in 10 years: The largest increase of any other immigrant group in the borough.
"I am surprised. I didn't think it would happen that quickly," said one Queens resident.
Even so, some community activists who did a lot of outreach during the census count say the population number should be a lot higher. They say fear among the undocumented and cultural barriers prevented a lot of people from participating.
"When you put up those ignorances together with fear of the government you definitely will not get the numbers which we need," said Community Activist Harpreet Singh.
Queens has 2.2 million people and Asians now account for 23 percent of the overall population while whites and Hispanics each make up 28 percent. Experts believe most Asians are coming from China and India, but other groups are increasing their numbers as well.
"We also have a huge population coming in from Pakistan and Bangladesh," Singh said.
"Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Bangladesh, you know, South Asians: Nepali and Tibetans. Now a lot of people coming from there," said Community Activist John Park.
Asians are also changing the face of many of the borough's neighborhoods.
"The Asians have turned certain parts of Queens completely around financially and economically," said Queens College Professor Andrew Beveridge.
The borough's population is also changing the political landscape, with representatives in the City Comptroller's office, State Assembly and City Council.
"Of course like everything else you need a critical mass to do political things and business," said City Councilman Peter Koo.