The World Comes To Queens

Fully one out of seven people living in Queens moved here from a foreign country between 1990 and 1996, the City Planning Commission reports.
Titled "The Newest New Yorkers," the study examines in detail the massive immigrations impact on Queenss rapidly changing demographics. The report highlights the origin and destination of the immigrants, who have been streaming into the borough at the steady rate of nearly 100 a day.
Borough President Claire Shulmans office has been working with local immigrant groups to launch citizenship classes, help family breadwinners find jobs, and familiarize the newcomers with city services.
"We welcome the newcomers," said Shulman, "and during the coming year, we will be working with all local groups and governmental agencies to ensure that all eligible residents register for the census." Undercounting during the 1990 census, she said, had cost Queens electoral seats, and in the process, desperately needed state and federal funding.
During the first half of this decade, nearly a third of New York Citys 794,000 emigrants have settled in 70 Queens neighborhoods, ranging from one Yemenite who settled in Fresh Meadows to 5,900 Chinese who moved into Flushing.
The City Planning data shows that Queens top five sources of immigrants during the 1990s were China, former Soviet Union nations, the Dominican Republic, Guyana and Jamaica, which fed nearly 98,000 new immigrants into Queens neighborhoods. The report also notes that such countries as Bangladesh, Ghana, Nigeria, and Egypt have emerged as major sources of immigrants during 1995-96.
"New York continues to draw record numbers of immigrants numbers not seen since the early decades of this century," said Joseph Rose, chairman of the City Planning Commission. He said that this strong population influx was a key ingredient of the citys economic strength.
Flushing residents Linna and Michael Yu are good examples. Currently a principal librarian in the Elmhurst branch of the Queens Public Library system, Linna Yu earned her masters degree in library science at Peabody College in 1963, a few years after she arrived from Taiwan. An avid community activist, Yu is a longtime member of Community Board 7, and is also active in local cultural activities. Her husband Michael is an architect.
The 2.7 percent immigration increase during 1995-96 was triggered by provisions of the federal immigration laws which were enacted to allow citizens form "under-represented" nations to participate. It is estimated that Queens population will exceed the two million-person mark.
The report also found:
While the former Soviet Union was the major source of immigrants moving into New York City, they were second highest, behind China in Queens.
 Nearly two-thirds of all immigrants have entered under "family reunification" provisions of the law.
Immigration from Jamaica and Guyana, although high, declined 10 percent.
 The highest rate of immigration increase came from Bangladesh, former Yugoslavia, and Egypt.
 The Astoria/Steinway communities attracted over 20,000 newcomers during the 1990s, the highest number in Queens. Contributing to this borough-high was a massive concentration of immigrants from Bangladesh.
The burgeoning population has placed strains on the citys schools and services.
last week, The Queens Courier reported that during this past decade, School District 24 had registered 100 new students per month during the school year. S.D. 24 schools are currently operating at 124 percent capacity, the citys highest student-to-seat ratio.
Mass transportation train and bus lines are extra-crowded during morning and evening rush hours, particularly the No. 7 line, which carries passengers to Times Square from Flushing, Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside, Sunnyside and Long Island City.
Also hard-pressed are sanitation, health care, police, fire, and housing in a borough with mainly single-family homes.
But C.B. 7 District manager Marilyn Bitterman, whose district (Flushing, Whitestone, College Point) has incorporated some of New York Citys heaviest population growth during the past quarter-century, is optimistic. Although their presence has had an impact on C.B. 7s municipal services, immigrants have also fueled neighborhood commerce and businesses since the 1980s, she stressed.
Bitterman noted that the booming local economy also includes a significant number of high-end jewelry and clothing shops. To accommodate this rapid growth, new banks many of them foreign have opened for business, with over $4 billion in assets. In recent months, branch offices of Merrill Lynch and Charles Schwab have also opened new offices in downtown Flushing to accommodate the commercial demand.

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