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China overtakes Mexico as top sender of immigrants to United States

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 22: Revelers shoot confetti in the Chinese New Year parade in Manhattan's Chinatown on February 22, 2015 in New York City. The parade, now in it's 16th year, brought out hundreds of participants and viewers to celebrate the Year of the Sheep.  (Photo by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 22: Revelers shoot confetti in the Chinese New Year parade in Manhattan's Chinatown on February 22, 2015 in New York City. The parade, now in it's 16th year, brought out hundreds of participants and viewers to celebrate the Year of the Sheep. (Photo by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images)  (2014 Getty Images)

China has overtaken Mexico as the No. 1 one source of immigrants to the United States, according to a new study.

In 2013, 147,000 people came to the United States from China, compared with 125,000 from Mexico. India had 129,000 people come to the United States, but statistical margins of error actually put India at about the same slot as Mexico, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Researchers arrived at the migration statistics by reviewing annual immigration data from the U.S. Census between 2000 and 2013. The study was discussed last week at the Population Association of American conference in California.

"Whether these recent trends signal a new and distinct wave of immigration is yet to be seen," Census Bureau researchers said, according to China Daily.

The Census does not inquire about legal immigration status; thus, it is not known how many of the immigrants factored into the migration study were here legally. Since most undocumented immigrants are believed to choose not to participate in the Census, their population is likely deeply undercounted.

In 2012, China and Mexico were at a virtual tie for the top countries of origin of people migrating to the United States, the Journal reported.

Other Asian countries also rank high in sending people to the United States. Those include South Korea, the Philippines and Japan.

Some factors believed to account for the rise in foreign born from Asian nations settling in the United States are international study programs, work visas (which then can lead to legal permanent residence) and family reunification.

Meanwhile, Mexicans have had their own factors compelling them to remain in their country – an improved economy in their homeland, lower birthrates, U.S. recession and stricter border enforcement, the Journal said.

All told, Mexicans still account for the bulk of the U.S. immigrant population, which stands at about 1.2 million.

China Daily quoted Wang Ting, an immigrant from China, as saying that the United States is the dream destination for many of her fellow Chinese.

"Choosing the U.S. as the destination is to find a better education for my children," said Wang.

"The education system in China is too intensely competitive, with the Chinese schools oriented towards one make-or-break college admission exam offered upon high school graduation. It's too much and not that healthy for the kids."

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