Christian migrants flock to U.S.

March 8, 2012 at 1:14 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- Nearly half of the world's migrants are Christian and they're more likely to immigrate to the United States than anywhere else in the world, a study suggests.

The U.S.-based Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life said of the 43 million foreign-born people living in the United States in 2010, an estimated 74 percent are Christian. More than 12 million of the Christian immigrants came from Mexico, the report said Thursday.

Worldwide, an estimated 106 million, or 49 percent, of migrants are Christian. Muslims are the second-largest group with almost 60 million, or 27 percent. The remaining quarter are a mix of Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, adherents of other faiths and the religiously unaffiliated.

The study said an international migrant is defined as a person who has been living for a year or longer in a country other than the one in which he or she was born.

Christian immigrants outnumber Muslim immigrants in the 27 countries of the European Union, although the numbers are closer when migration within the European Union is excluded. Saudi Arabia has been the top destination for Muslim migrants, most of whom are workers from nearby Arab countries, the Indian subcontinent, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Israel has been the top destination for Jewish migrants, including many from Russia, while India is both the top origin and top destination for Hindu migrants. The United States is the second-leading destination for Hindu immigrants.

China is the top country of origin for religiously unaffiliated migrants and the second-leading country of origin for Buddhist migrants after Vietnam.

As a percentage, people of the Jewish faith have the highest level of migration. About one-quarter of Jews have left the country in which they were born and now live somewhere else. By contrast, just 5 percent of Christians, 4 percent of Muslims and fewer than 3 percent of members of other major religious groups have migrated across international borders, the study said.

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