Center for American Progress

PRESS RELEASE: Assimilation Today – New Evidence on the Advancement of Immigrants in Arizona’s Culture and Economy
Press Release

PRESS RELEASE: Assimilation Today – New Evidence on the Advancement of Immigrants in Arizona’s Culture and Economy

Read the report here.

Washington, D.C.—Immigrants in Arizona have proven much more successful at assimilating into the state’s economy and culture than many assume, according to a new study of U.S. Census Bureau data released today by the Center for American Progress.

Moreover, after 18 years of U.S. residence, two-thirds of Arizona’s Latino immigrants are homeowners and almost three-fifths speak only English or speak English well, considerably above the national average for all Latino foreign born in both categories.

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. The basic research was supported by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to the USC team.

Among the findings in Arizona:

  • Immigrants make up 14 percent of Arizona’s population, making the state one of 14 that has foreign-born populations greater than the national average share of 12.5 percent.
  • Almost 3 out of every 10 immigrants have arrived since 2000.
  • Arizona’s immigrants have higher homeownership rates than the national average, regardless of whether they have lived in the United States longer than 18 years or less than eight.
  • Among Arizona’s Hispanic immigrants who lived in the United States for at least 18 years, 66.6 percent are now homeowners, 59.2 percent speak English well, and 57.9 percent earn wages above low income levels.

As in Arizona, immigrants across the United States are assimilating at high rates, most notably in the areas of homeownership and citizenship in the first 18 years of residency, and show high rates of advancement the longer they live here. Nationally, assimilation by all foreign born can be seen in the rising rates of earnings and high school completions. Children of Latino immigrants are more likely than their parents to have B.A. degrees, higher-paying occupations, be living in households above the poverty line, and own homes.

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.

“These findings affirm 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.

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. The assimilation rates for key states can be found in the report here.