Over the last ten years in New Jersey, the growth of ethnic and cultural group has increased dramatically. Based on Census 2010 data, 19% of the State of New Jersey can be considered new Americans -a 58% increase since 1990. If this trend continues, by the year 2020 almost one in three people are new Americans in Central New Jersey.
Since 1990, the state’s Asian American population has increased by 166% and the Latino population has more than doubled (111%). In Middlesex County alone, almost one out of five people are of Latino descent, while another 21% of the total population is of Asian descent. In Mercer County, which has total population of 366,500, the Latino population has reached 15% and the Asian population represents 9%. Similarly, in Somerset County, the Latinos represent 13% and Asians represent 14% of the total population.
With this significant demographic shift, especially in the total population of Latino and Asian communities residing in central New Jersey, the goals of the New Americans Program are as strong and as vital as ever before. As a culturally and economically diverse community that makes up 26% of the state’s civil labor force and 15% of entrepreneurial start-ups in Middlesex County, the new Americans should be recognized as a backbone of New Jersey’s economy. The mission of our organization is: to help provide services for this burgeoning community of immigrants and their children; to continue helping new immigrants access vital resources; and most importantly, to bridge the gaps between communities in order to better form close-knit neighborhoods that strengthen basic human connections
The Needs and Barriers Assessment that the Eagleton Institute conducted for immigrant access to social services (2003) aligns with the trends of New Americans, as they relate to social service agencies. The report states that “Close to two-thirds (63%) of all respondents claimed that they ‘don’t know what’s available’, half (50%) mentioned language difficulties, and over a third (36%) reported transportation issues.” The New Americans program was launched to address some of the key findings of the report, in response to New Jersey’s “demographic revolution”. The study uncovered that there are three main barriers to obtaining social services: “primarily a lack of information, a lack of trust, and program eligibility restrictions.”
Arriving to a new country can often feel overwhelming, with no clear sense of where to go. Fortunately, the New Americans program is committed to making certain that no one is left in the dark. Our primary objective is to make every new American more knowledgeable, more capable, and more connected to their new home and those around them. As the immigrant population and their future generations continue to grow, so do the roles and initiatives of the New Americans program. We believe that aggressively reaching out to meet the needs of new Americans is not only our mission, but an absolute imperative for the entire state..
The state of New Jersey continues to be rejuvenated with fresh faces, and a shifting demographic landscape is before us. New families and a new workforce have arrived, and it therefore the responsibility of the larger New Jersey community to better train, acclimate, and integrate these new Americans into the American fabric.
For additional details, please refer to the recently published Eagleton Institute Study Report on “Crossroads of the World: New Americans in Middlesex County, New Jersey”.