New immigrants assimilating

By Philip Newman

Immigrants are blending into the population of the United States as they have in earlier decades. They are bringing low crime rates as well as learning English at the same rate or faster than previous generations have, a new study said. However, that study also found that many who now come to America don’t necessarily want to stay.

There are 41 million immigrants and 37.1 million U.S.-born children of immigrants in the United States today. Those first- and second-generation residents account for one-quarter of the U.S. population.

In Queens, nearly half of the 2.3 million residents—47.8 percent—were born outside the United States, according to 2014 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Across all measurable outcomes integration increases over time, with immigrants becoming more like the native-born with more time in the country and with the second and third generations becoming more like other native-born Americans than their parents were,” said a study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

In comparison with native-born Americans, the report said, immigrants are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or cancer and they experience fewer chronic health conditions, have lower infant mortality and obesity rates and longer life expectancy.

These advantages, however, tend to decline as their health status converges with that of the native-born population.

The report says neighborhoods with greater concentrations of immigrants have much lower crime rates and violence than comparable non-immigrant populations.

For instance, foreign-born men aged 18 to 39 are incarcerated at one-fourth the rate of native-born men of the same age group, although over time and generations crime rates for those foreign-born men come to resemble that of native-born population.

The report also said vast numbers of those who come to the United States—around half—do not become citizens and that it’s the availability of jobs that attracts them.

“More than 90 percent of Americans polled—whether native or foreign-born—say it is important or very important for those who live in the U.S to be able to speak English,” the report said.

“Available evidence indicates that today’s immigrants are learning English at the same rate or faster than earlier waves of immigrants,” according to the report.

As for jobs, the report said, “immigrants appear to be taking low-skilled jobs that natives are either not available or unwilling to take.”

The academy is a nonprofit whose mission is to investigate major issues having an impact on American society.