Asians have surpassed Hispanics as the nation's largest group of new immigrants.

The news doesn't come as a surprise to Georgia immigration advocates.

Fewer Hispanics have been migrating to the US for years because of the economic downturn and tougher enforcement of immigration policies.

The Pew Research Center says, Asians now make up 38% of new arrivals to the US while Hispanics are at 31%.

University of Georgia Law School professor and immigration lawyer Charles Kuck says, the numbers have the potential to sway public opinion on controversial matters like immigration reform.

"Certainly it brings a new dynamic to the debate today about what the future of America looks like," Kuck says. "It brings us back to more of a melting pot than others may have thought in the past."

Kuck is leading a lawsuit challenging Georgia's immigration law.

Census Bureau figures show that Asians are now 3% of Georgia's population, up from 2% percent a decade earlier.

Metro Atlanta has the highest concentrations, with zip codes in Norcross, Duluth and Clarkston showing more than 10% of the population as Asian, according to US Census data.

Attorney Sarah Hawke of the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association says, the figures reinforce the need for business leaders to make connections in Asia.

"More cities and states are recognizing the need to have an outreach toward Asia because of this world economy and the fact that they can come and invest in the U.S." Hawke says. "This demonstrates that as a nation, we're still reaching out and growing."

The Pew study notes how much emphasis Asian-Americans place on education, business and traditional values.

It also notes a great deal of variety in income and education among many Asian nationalities.

Tags: census, GPB News, 2010 census, orlando montoya, nicholas lawrence, Asian Immigrants