Story URL:
Story Retrieval Date: 4/17/2015 11:54:44 AM CST

Top Stories

Ana-Maria Udrica/MEDILL

Asians have experienced significant growth over the last 10 years, according to the 2010 census.

Asian population booms in Illinois and Chicago, census data show

by Ana-Maria Udrica
March 09, 2011

Related Links

2010 Census Bureau Redistricting Data2010 Census American FactFinderAsian American InstituteRob Paral and Associates

Fast Facts

• On Feb. 22, Illinois elected its first Asian alderman, Ameya Pawar, in the 47th Ward.

• The Asian-American population of Illinois has grown to 586,934, a 39 percent increase since 2000.

• 92,304 Asian-Americans reside in DuPage County, making them 10 percent of the county's total population.

• Twelve counties in Illinois experienced 100 percent or more Asian population growth.

• Cook, DuPage and Lake counties had the highest total Asian-American populations of all Illinois counties in 2000, and continue to do so in 2010.

• Cook, Will, DuPage, Lake and Kane each experienced more than 10,000 total population growth in their respective Asian populations.

• Will and Kane counties experienced tremendous growth of their Asian populations, 177 percent and 145 percent respectively. Together, they now are home to  more than 8 percent of the total Illinois' Asian-American population, up from 4.35 percent in 2000.

• If Asians were proportionally represented, there would be five Asian-American representatives in the Illinois house and three Asian-Americans in the Illinois Senate.

(Statistics come from the Asian American Institute and are based on the 2010 census)

Chicago may have elected its first Asian alderman last month, but there has still never been an Asian elected to Congress from Illinois or to the state General Assembly.

That could change now that the 2010 census data has been released.

Asians are Illinois’ fastest growing population and, with legislative redistricting in the works, their numbers could translate into more representation.

“In Chicago, the [total] population dropped 7 percent and the Asian-American population rose 17 percent, so while we’re still about 5 percent of the community, it’s starting to be a growing community,” said Tuyet Le, executive director of the Asian American Institute.

“With participation, this begins to be significant as people become more active in civic life, voting, political activities and political empowerment,” Le said.

Illinois’ Asian population grew 39 percent since 2000, more than the Hispanic population, which grew 33 percent, although the numbers of new Hispanics exceeded those of Asians. With 55 percent of Asians residing in Cook County, it continues to be home to the majority of Illinois’ Asians.

In Chicago Asians have their largest representation in the 11th Ward (Bridgeport) where they make up 31 percent of the population, according to census data compiled by Rob Paral and Associates. This is followed by the 50th Ward (Rogers Park) where they make up 23 percent, and 39th Ward (Albany Park) where they are 18 percent of the population.

Illinois’ Asian population has also moved around over the past 10 years. The Rob Paral data shows the Asian population had its biggest growth in the 27th Ward (West Town), where it increased 281 percent. Meanwhile, its biggest loss was in the 15th Ward (Marquette Park), where the Asian population dropped 53 percent.

Legislators will use the 2010 census figures to redraw legislative districts. A series of federal laws and court rulings dating from the 1960s protect minority populations from being unfairly split up and encourage drawing districts that give minorities the chance to elect a representative from their group.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law Monday a redistricting reform bill that makes it a priority to keep minority communities together. The law aims to prevent the disenfranchisement that resulted when Chinatown’s Asian population was divided into multiple wards and districts 10 years ago.

For Asians, Le said this means legislators will look at how they fit in their current districts, and whether they and the rest of the district’s population are being represented.

“Our strategy is to define our communities and what we want to be held together,” Le said.

Chinatown, West Ridge, Albany Park, Skokie, Niles and Morton Grove are some of the communities with heavy concentrations of Asians.

Le said lack of social services for Asian-Americans is one example of an issue that could be better addressed with representation. She said the lack of services is often “based on the idea that Asian-Americans are model minorities.”

“I think better representation with people who understand that as new immigrants, or as racial minority, Asian-Americans don’t always have that model minority experience that people think we have [could help].”

Other issues Asian-Americans face include civil rights, immigrant rights, affirmative action, family reunification and health disparities, Le said.

The Asian American Institute is reviewing the census numbers. It will present draft maps at redistricting hearings and work with legislators and community members to ensure the lines that are drawn in 2011 allow their communities voices to be heard.

It is not yet known if Illinois’ rising Asian population will lead to an Asian district that elects an Asian representative, but Le said “the climate has changed” and more and more Asians are running for office.

Not all of them are running in majority Asian districts though, meaning a larger Asian population may not necessarily lead to an Asian representative or candidate.

“The Asian-Americans who are running are not only running in majority Asian districts, and that’s not where the first Asian-American alderman came from. His ward is less than 5 percent Asian,” Le said.

Whether it’s a non-Asian representative taking Chinatown’s interest into consideration or an Asian representative working with a non-Asian community, Le said its “an opportunity to really work with other communities in order to be elected."