Number of Foreign-Language Speakers in America Rises to 65.5 Million—All-Time High
A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies shows that a record 65.5 million—one-in-five—American residents (aged 5+) speak a language other than English at home.
This is a huge number, and it’s growing fast. In fact, since 2010 the number of people speaking a language other than English at home has increased by over 6 million, and it’s up by 34 million since 1990, and over 40 million since 1980.
Since 2010 the largest increases (percentage-wise) were for Arabic speakers, which is not surprising given President Obama’s prioritization of Islamic refugees. In absolute numbers, the Spanish-speaking population increased the most. Other notable increases include Hindi (which is commonly spoken in India), Mandarin (China’s main language), and Urdu (commonly spoken in Pakistan).
A quick summary of the report’s key facts:
1. In 2016, 65.5 million US residents (including natural born, legal & illegal immigrants) spoke a language other than English at home—this has doubled since 1990, when 31.8 million spoke a foreign language at home.
2. The share of Americans speaking a foreign language at home is 21.6 percent (just over one-in-five), which is double the proportion in 1980 (11 percent). Also worth noting is that many ESL speakers in 1980 were relatively old, now they’re relatively young.
3. Of languages with more than 400,000 speakers, the largest percentage increases since 2010 were among speakers of Arabic (up 42 percent), Hindi (up 33 percent), Urdu (up 22 percent), Chinese (up 20 percent), Persian (15 percent), and Gujarati (up 14 percent)—note that both Hindi & Gujarati are Indian languages.
4. In absolute terms, the number of Spanish speakers increased most (by 3.5 million), followed by Mandarin (564,000), Arabic (366,000), and Hindi (201,000).
5. The vast majority of foreign-language speakers speak Spanish at home—this is largely a function of America’s massive problem with illegal immigration from Hispanic countries. Furthermore, the number likely underestimates the number of illegal aliens.
The numbers: Spanish (40.5 million), Chinese (3.4 million), Tagalog (1.7 million), Vietnamese (1.5 million), Arabic (1.2 million), French (1.2 million), and Korean (1.1 million).
6. Half the growth in foreign language speakers was not due to immigration, but natural birth. This is partly due to “white flight” and self-segregation. Essentially, the number of immigrants is so high that assimilation has become all but impossible in many cities and neighborhoods.
These numbers are sobering, and should give anyone—liberal or conservative—pause to consider whether or not mass, uncontrolled immigration is a reasonable policy choice.
Of course, this newspaper contends strongly that immigration should be limited to that level which best promotes the national interest—open borders is an economic and social disaster.