1 in 6 Floridians foreign-born

ImmigrationMigrationPoliticsSingaporeSweetwater

In a place where just less than a third of the population was born in state, Florida continues to be dominated by people from elsewhere in the country as well as elsewhere in the world.

About 17 percent of the state's population was foreign-born in 2000, up from about 13 percent in 1990, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 6 percent of immigrants arrived in the 1990s, keeping Florida in the forefront for new-immigrant growth, say experts.

"Florida has been an important destination for immigrants from the beginning of Cuban immigration to now," said John Logan, who heads the University of Albany's Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research.

While other cities saw a surge in immigration in the 1990s, Miami remained one of the most popular destinations for new immigrants, with about 416,000 entering the metropolitan area.

The places with the highest percentage of foreign-born were in South Florida. The populations of Sweetwater, Fountainbleau and Hialeah are each more than 70 percent foreign-born, fueled mostly by continued Hispanic immigration.

The state's foreign-born population is also becoming increasingly diverse, with immigrants from the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.

Felicity Fang moved to Orlando in 1997 with her husband, who planned to start a business with a family member. Though Central Florida was a relaxed change of pace from the couple's native Singapore, Fang plans to call the region home for good.

"The cost of living here is a lot cheaper than Los Angeles or New York, which we considered. We like it here," said Fang, 33, who works in financial sales for New York Life Insurance. "We did well in Singapore, but here in the U.S., the possibilities are limitless. If you work hard, you can make it here."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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