The World

The U.S. Is Now Beating Europe as a Destination for Immigrants

Immigrants take oath of citizenship to the United States on Nov. 20, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

According to a new analysis by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the EU has fallen behind the U.S. as a destination for immigrants for the first time in more than a decade. The Financial Times reports:

According to the OECD’s annual International Migration Outlook, released on Monday, the U.S. had 1.03 million permanent migrants in 2012 against the 948,200 who arrived in the EU’s 28 member countries.

Opponents of immigration in Europe may applaud this, but it should be a cause for long-term concern in a continent with both high levels of out-migration and continuously falling birthrates.

After-effects of the Eurozone crisis are almost certainly the reason for this trend. The countries hit worst, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, all saw major drops in immigration. Ireland, which had become a net importer of people during the “Celtic Tiger” years of the late 1990s and early 2000s, saw an astounding 73 percent drop in the number of new arrivals between 2007 and 2012. Meanwhile, emigration from Ireland hit its highest level since the 19th century.  On the other hand, the still robust German economy has led to increased immigration every year for the past four years.

While economics are the main culprit here, the political climate around immigration in Europe, which has seen anti-immigrant right-wing parties gain unprecedented influence in both national and EU political institutions, is also surely a contributing factor. Not that America’s immigration debated has been particularly rational or enlightened over the past few years, but for now, relative economic strength seems to be making America the more attractive destination for foreigners. It would be nice if American politicians thought of that as something to be proud of.