The debate over assimilation is also part of the long-term political battles for comprehensive immigration reform. According to one new report, “the levels of citizenship, home-ownership, and English proficiency” among Florida immigrants “exceed the national averages.”
The Center for American Progress released this month “Assimilation Today,” a report that cites “new evidence [that] shows the latest immigrants to America are following in our history’s footsteps.”
According to the report, “the foreign-born share of our total population” was 7.9 percent in 1990 and reached 12.5 percent in 2008 — “a level of immigrant residents still below that of the early 20th century, when it reached 14.7 percent at its apex in 1910.”
The report follows data on immigrants who arrived in the U.S as adults between 1985 and 1989 and were first counted in the 1990 census, then in 2000 and the 2008 American Community Survey.
The report’s authors selected citizenship, home-ownership, English-language proficiency, educational attainment, occupation and income as indicators of assimilation. These indicators show that eight key states, including Florida, have seen a gradual increase in assimilation for all immigrants.
The study offers an overall statistical view of changes in these indicators over the last 20 years for all immigrants and focuses on
trends in assimilation observed for Latino immigrants who were born in Mexico or Central America. Often these immigrants have the lowest educational attainment and lowest English-speaking skills. Criticism is sometimes expressed that these immigrants are destined for a life of poverty in America. Because all these assumed faults are often exaggerated, there is a compelling need to learn the Latino immigrants’ path to assimilation.
The report concludes:
The evidence presented in this report shows that assimilation of immigrants in America continues at a rapid pace today. Our major task was to arrange the raw data in a format that reflects the time dimension of immigrant advancement so that others can see the changes over time. Sharing these data should help the American public assess the rate of assimilation with their own eyes.
Whether from higher or lower starting points of social and economic attainment—as observed when immigrants are newly arrived—the ensuing two decades reveal a dramatic rise. This remarkable advancement is most evident for citizenship and homeownership, followed by income and English- language proficiency.