October 27, 2016
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Immigrants Making Progress Assimilating Into US


Washington.—Immigrants to the United States are assimilating at high rates, most notably by becoming citizens and homeowners in the first 18 years of residency, according to a study released by the Center for American Progress.

The study refutes claims from immigration opponents who question immigrants’ contributions to U.S. society and economy, and shows robust integration by newcomers since 1990, regardless of their social or economic starting points.

“This study affirms America’s history. Immigrants are not static in their assimilation. Despite claims to the contrary, history is repeating itself and today’s newcomers are becoming tomorrow’s new Americans,” said Angela M. Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress.

The findings, based on U.S. Census Bureau data, are contained in the report, “Assimilation Today: New Evidence Shows the Latest Immigrants to America Are Following in Our History’s Footsteps,” by Dowell Myers and John Pitkin, of the University of Southern California’s Population Dynamics Research Group.

Assimilation by all foreign-born immigrants also is seen in their rising earning rates and high school completions. Children of Latino immigrants also are more likely than their parents to finish college, have good jobs, and own homes.

The nation’s latest immigrants are following in the footsteps of our ancestors, spreading out across the country and integrating in communities, large and small. And 14 states now have foreign-born populations above the national average of 12.5 percent, according to the study.

Many Americans believe immigrants are, like Peter Pan, forever frozen, and never advance economically or socially, but “the data on immigrant advancement may be surprising and should help dispel the illogical Peter Pan fallacy,” write the authors.

The report uses key benchmarks such as naturalization to citizenship, homeownership, and earnings to measure assimilation.

Among the findings:

  • There are now 14 states that have foreign-born populations greater than the national average share of 12.5 percent.
  • Immigrants are moving to new communities in 27 states where the populations of recently arrived immigrants make up at least 2 percent of the state population.
  • Latino immigrants, in the first 18 years of U.S. residency, swiftly attain the hallmark of the “American Dream“—homeownership—with 58 percent achieving this feat in 2008, up from only 9.3 percent of in 1990.
  • Latino immigrants in Arizona—ground zero for the national immigration debate—have proven much more successful than many assume. Two-thirds of immigrants are homeowners after 18 years of U.S. residence, just over 59 percent speak English well, and almost 58 percent earn better than a low income.

The assimilation rates can be found here.


The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is "of the people, by the people, and for the people."


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