How Would Trump's Muslim Ban Affect Pakistanis?
By Riaz Haq
Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump has called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on". While Trump's supporters have cheered at this move, top Republican party leaders have denounced it.
The notion of banning all members of one religion from the country "is not what this party stands for," said Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan at Capitol Hill. Ryan's rebuke is rendered more powerful by the fact that he typically avoids commenting on the presidential race. "More importantly, it's not what this country stands for." US allies in Europe, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls have also condemned Trump's call.
While the chances of Trump's plan becoming reality are remote at best, there's clearly widespread concern about immigrants from Muslim nations that could lead to certain restrictions selectively applied to future Muslim immigrants entering the United States. Besides impacting Syrian refugees' entry, such restrictions will also affect future immigrants from Pakistan. These restrictions will make the process more difficult and could significantly reduce the flow of Muslims and Pakistanis into the United States.
Why Pakistan? For two reasons: a) Tafsheen Malik, one of the two suspects in San Bernardino massacre, came from Pakistan on a fiancee visa last year, and b) Pakistan is among the top Muslim nations sending immigrants to the United States.
The US granted 83,000 green cards to immigrants from Pakistan and another 83,000 to migrants from Iraq between fiscal years 2009 and 2013, according to a chart produced by the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest using Department of Homeland Security data. Immigrants from Bangladesh received 75,000 green cards, those from Iran received 73,000, and those from Egypt received 45,000 to round out the top five. In sum, the US granted 680,000 green cards to immigrants from Muslim-majority nations between 2009 and 2013, according to a media report .
Pakistani-Americans (pop: 409,163 in 2010 US Census) are the seventh largest community among Asian-Americans, behind Chinese (3.8 million), Filipinos (3.4 million), Indians (3.2 million), Vietnamese (1.74 million), Koreans (1.7 million) and Japanese (1.3 million), according to Asian-American Center For Advancing Justice . They are still a minuscule fraction of the overall US population. However, their numbers have more than doubled in the last decade due to increased immigration, according to US Census 2010 data. With 100% increase since 2000, Pakistanis are the second fastest growing Asian immigrant group in the United States. With median household income of $63,000, Pakistani-Americans also earn more than an average American household. The most common jobs of Pakistani-Americans include doctors, engineers, accountants, salespersons, administrators/managers and financial analysts. 55 per cent hold at least a bachelor’s degree which is higher than 49% of all Asian-Americans and almost twice the 28% of overall American population with college degrees.


Here are some of the highlights of Pakistani-American data from US Census 2010 as gleaned from a report titled "A Community of Contrasts Asian Americans in the United States: 2011" published by Asian-American Center For Advancing Justice :
1. There were 409,163 Pakistani-Americans in 2010, the 7th largest Asian-American community in America.
2. Pakistani-American population doubled from 2000 (204,309) to 2010 (409,163), the second largest percentage increase after Bangladeshis' 157% increase in the same period.
3. The median household income of Pakistani-American families is nearly $63,000 versus $51,369 average for all Americans.
4. 55% of Pakistanis have a bachelor's degree or higher.
5. 55% of Pakistanis own their own homes.
6. 6% of Pakistani-American population is mixed race.
7. 65% of Pakistanis in America are foreign-born. 57% of foreign-born Pakistani-American population is made up of naturalized citizens.
8. There are 120,000 Pakistani legal permanent residents of which 42% are eligible to naturalize.
9. There were 69,202 immigrant visas issued to Pakistanis from 2001 to 2010, the 5th highest among Asian nations.
10. 28% of Pakistanis have limited English proficiency.
11. 15% of Pakistanis are classified as poor; only 1% of them are on public assistance.
12. 8% of Pakistanis are unemployed, a figure lower than the general population of Americans.
13. Median age of Pakistanis in America is only 29 years, lower than most of the Asian groups and the national median age of 36.8 years.
The Pakistani-American community is still relatively young when compared with other immigrant groups. More of the Pakistanis in America are college educated than the general population of whites and various immigrant groups. They work in high-tech and entertainment fields , start and lead companies in Silicon Valley as entrepreneurs , own major professional sports teams , look after people as health care providers, serve in the US military and hold public offices.
The youthful energy and higher education levels of Pakistani-Americans are opening doors for them to rise and shine in America, in spite of the current environment of religious discrimination and other difficulties in their adopted land of opportunities.