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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Emigres From Former Union Flood New York

NEW YORK -- Immigration from the former Soviet Union helped fuel a surge in the numbers of legal immigrants to New York City in the first five years of the decade, the city reported.

The increase brought the number of newcomers to the city to the highest levels of the post-World War II era, said the 300-page study by the City Planning Department. The study also disclosed a host of other findings: Recent-vintage immigrants are more likely to be women, better skilled and from Europe than in past years.

One of every 10 immigrants who entered the city between 1990 and 1994 came from Russia or one of the other republics that once comprised the Soviet Union, a jump of nearly 900 percent from the 1980s.

Overall, legal immigration into New York averaged 113,000 people each year between 1990 and 1994, up from 86,000 in the 1980s and 78,000 in the 1970s. But the figure falls far short of matching those from the beginning of the century, when waves of immigrants sought a new home in the United States.

The statistics do not take into account illegal immigrants, an elusive community who may number as many as 400,000 in New York. And the study did not address key economic questions, such as how many of the newcomers end up on welfare rolls.

The share of European immigrants more than doubled, from 9 percent in the 1980s to 22 percent for 1990 to 1994. The Caribbean accounted for one in three immigrants to the city, down from 40 percent in the 1980s.

New arrivals from the Dominican Republic rose by more than 50 percent between 1990 and 1994 compared to the 1980s. Immigrants from that country represented about two of every ten coming into New York during that time, or 110,000 people -- the largest source of immigrants into New York.

The number of employment visas, generally issued to skilled workers, shot up more than 60 percent to 11,000. And 10 female immigrants now come into New York for every nine males, widening a gap from the 1980s.

Agency officials attribute the shifting patterns -- at least in part -- to federal laws that have created new opportunities for immigration. For example, a provision in the law that allows the entry of nurses into the country is used overwhelmingly by women.

The study was based on federal statistics.

City officials presented a generally positive view Wednesday of the impact of the increase, emphasizing that immigrants help drive the economy and bring new life to old neighborhoods. But they also conceded that the jump could contribute to housing shortages and school crowding in some neighborhoods.

The report comes after a year when Congress got tougher with illegal immigration, and some lawmakers are now considering how many and what kind of legal immigrants the United States should welcome.

Despite the prominence immigration played in the 1996 political campaign, it's unclear what direction Congress will take this year.