Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Puerto Rican Diaspora

A few weeks ago, when I came across a article in the local paper with the title "Hay más boricuas en EE.UU que en la isla" ("There are more Boricuas in the U.S than on the Island") I was not surprised. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term "boricua," it means Puerto Rican. As stated in this article, 4.15 million Puerto Ricans live on the mainland. Out of this number, an estimated 2.8 million were born in one of the 50 states or in the District of Columbia. The island itself has slightly less than 4 million inhabitants. Since Puerto Ricans born on the island are U.S citizens, they can easily emigrate to the mainland by simply purchasing a one-way plane ticket. Keep in mind, boricuas wouldn't be considered immigrants, but instead would be considered emigrants. The largest wave of Puerto Rican migration took place between 1950-1959, according to Wikipedia. During this period, most boricuas settled in the New York City area.

I have yet to meet a boricua who doesn't have any family members or relatives who live on the mainland, except perhaps one person. The search for better economic opportunities, and a better life, are the primary reasons why Puerto Ricans go Stateside. This has resulted in somewhat of a "brain-drain" as many medical professionals, engineers, etc. have indeed left the island as wages are much higher on the mainland. On the other hand, I do know many Puerto Ricans who have returned to the island after living in the mainland for many years, and some were actually born Stateside. So, which states do most Boricuas prefer to emigrate to nowadays? Here are some numbers gathered from 2000-2007 which I came across in another article titled "Fuga de boricuas a Texas" ("Escape of Boricuas to Texas"):
  • Florida (124,361)
  • Pennsylvania (49,723)
  • New York (40,951)
  • Massachusetts (28,802)
  • New Jersey (23,011)
(*Source: U.S Census, American Community Services, Prof. Jorge Duany)

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