South Asian Indians Of Illinois Economic Impact

Since their arrival to the U.S in the 19th century , South Asian Indians have made many notable contributions to this country's economic reputation.

Early Sikh Immigrants in California 1910

In the beginning, most of these bold immigrants worked in agricultural as farmers and loggers. After a back-and-forth struggle on the legalization of their immigration and citizenship, SAI's finally received many the benefits of American freedom in 1965 with the passing of a new bill. This ushered in yet another historic age of immigration by the Indians. In 2002, a reported 1.9 million Indians lived in the U.S and this number skyrocketed to a 95% increase in the past decade. Illinois was noted as a major harbor for Indian immigrants in 2015. The incentives (such as better income, medicine, education etc) for Indians to immigrate to America for a better standard of life out weighed the opportunity cost of doing so.

Indians brought with them a plethora of culturally diverse crafts and commodities. They have also played roles in politics and society. Illinois has its own "little India" at Devon Avenue where many Indian and eastern shops have set up and flourished. Immigration created a demand for eastern goods, like rice, spices, eastern clothing etc., and Devon Avenue's shops brought the supply all the while diversifying Illinois' economic facets. India's entertainment industry is only second to Hollywood and with the strong presence Indians in the U.S, many theaters like BIG Cinemas are able to bring Indian movies stateside.

Indians also play roles in the political realm. In 1957 Dalip Saund, the first Asian Indian congressman, was elected to Congress. The IADO plays an active role in getting Indians politically aware and engaged. As for trade, India is America's 11th highest partner where the imports from India easily double the exports showing their interdependence. Overseas Indian students also contribute the most to the United States GDP over any other country.

The Problem

Now with, the emphasis Indian family's put on education and the amount of money they save towards college, many of them moved out of the blue collar sphere of work for employment in all things technology related. The issuing of H1-B visas, which allowed skilled workers to enter the country and work for tech companies, has been ceased following the election of President Trump. The main argument against the visa is that some immigrants overstay their allotted time and live in the U.S illegally.

The Solution

The issue with a complete removal of H1-B visas is that it removes a good source for America to get quality human capital. India's education system is rigorous and produces capable workers especially when you consider the type of people who are admitted through the H1-B visa. It would bode well to enact a new type of visa so we don't lose on out on these skilled workers and helping the economy. “The H-1B visa program, which allows employers in the USA to hire skilled foreign labor, has enabled the recruitment of hundreds of thousands of IT workers since the 1990s…The vast majority of those under H-1B visas in IT has been and continues to be Indian men”(Banerjee).


You'd be hard pressed to not find an Indian resident in any part of America or any sign of Indian culture or commodities. Like all immigrants, Indians entering America end up providing both the demand and supply for new goods ans services which helps in growing America's economic foundations. They also engage in mainstays of America's economy such as housing and entertainment. A country like America, which is country of immigrants and one that embraces freedom, can only benefit from it's many communities working together and it should make an effort to understand and preserve this valuable resource.


  • Banerjee, Payal. “Indian Information Technology Workers In The United States: The H-1B Visa, Flexible Production, And The Racialization Of Labor.” Critical Sociology (Brill Academic Publishers) 32.2/3 (2006): 425-445. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Feb. 2017.
  • Koval, John P. The New Chicago: A Social and Cultural Analysis. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2006. Print.
  • Mankiw, Gregory N. “Essentials of Economics”. 7th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2015. Print.
  • Mihalopoulos, Dan, and Jon Yates. “Indian Immigrants Flock to Suburbs to Fill High-tech Jobs.” Tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Chicago Tribune, 29 May 2001. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.
  • “India’s Students Overseas.” India’s Students Overseas. Project Atlas, 2016. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.

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