Because of New Jersey’s location next to New York Harbor, the state historically drew many immigrants entering the United States through its main port of entry. This pattern has continued into the twenty-first century, as new immigrants have arrived at Newark, New Jersey’s, and nearby New York City’s international airports. The state’s earliest immigrants were mostly from Europe; by the end of the twentieth century, New Jersey was one of the top-ranking states in percentages of immigrants from Mexico, China, and the Philippines, and it was also welcoming significant numbers of Asian Indians.
One of Great Britain’s original North American colonies, New Jersey drew its earliest immigrants from England. Many of them were Quakers and Baptists seeking religious freedom. After the United States achieved its independence, the heaviest influx of European immigrants into New Jersey began arriving during the 1840’s. Later,
By the turn of the twenty-first century, New Jersey had one of the richest mixtures of world cultures in the United States, with people from nearly one hundred different nations speaking more than 165 different languages. In 2009, an advisory panel on the state’s immigrant policy reported that fully 20 percent of the state’s 8.7 million residents were foreign born, and most of these people had entered within the previous twenty years. About 46 percent of the foreign-born residents were Latin Americans, 30 percent were Asians, 18.6 percent were Europeans, and 4.5 percent were Africans. The largest single national group among the foreign-born New Jersey residents were
The advisory report also noted that New Jersey has a comparatively high rate of naturalization among its immigrant communities. In 2006, 48 percent of its foreign-born residents were naturalized citizens. Although immigrants as a whole were more likely than native-born Americans to live in poverty, naturalized immigrants were less likely to live in poverty than natives. The advisory report did not deal at length with the subject of
Among other findings of the advisory report on immigration was the fact that one-third of all children in New Jersey were members of families with at least one foreign-born parent. Consequently, the state needed more instruction in English as a second language and more resources for preschool children.
Several positive factors were noted in the report. Immigrants were less likely than native-born New Jersey residents to be incarcerated or on public assistance. Immigrants were also more likely to be employed, although they generally received lower wages.
Fleming, Thomas J. New Jersey: A Bicentennial History. New York: W. W. Norton, 1977. Green, Howard L., ed. Words That Make New Jersey History: A Primary Source Reader. Piscataway, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2006. Mappen, Mark. Jerseyana: The Underside of New Jersey History. Piscataway, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1992. Montalto, N. One of the Many: Integrating Immigrants in New Jersey. Washington, D.C.: National Integration Forum, 2006.
Alien land laws
New York State
Statue of Liberty
Transportation of immigrants