Center for American Progress

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

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

Read the report here.

Read the Fast Facts here. (pdf)

Listen to today’s press call here. (mp3)

Washington, D.C.—Immigrants in Florida who have been in the United States at least 18 years are assimilating at rates higher than the national average for foreign born residents across the U.S., based on their levels of English proficiency, citizenship, and homeownership, according to a new study released today by the Center for American Progress.

Moreover, Florida’s Latino immigrants who have been here during the same length of time also have higher rates of English proficiency, naturalization, and homeownership than Latino foreign-born residents across the nation, based on new research of 2008 U.S. Census Bureau data.

Nationally, immigrants are assimilating at high rates, advancing fastest in the areas of homeownership and citizenship, notably in the first 18 years of residency, and show high rates of advancement the longer they live in the United States.

The findings 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 key findings in Florida:

  • Immigrants make up 19 percent of the state’s population.
  • Of the Florida immigrants who have resided in the U.S. between 18 and 27 years, the levels of English proficiency, citizenship, and homeownership are higher than the national average.
  • The state’s Latino immigrants who have been in the U.S. longer than 18 years also have higher than average levels of English proficiency, citizenship, and homeownership. The citizenship rate among this group is 49.4 percent, 11.6 percent above the national average.
  • Newcomers to Florida—those who have arrived since 2000—have a homeownership rate of 35.6 percent, 12 points higher than the average for other U.S. immigrants who came here since 2000.

Nationally, assimilation by all foreign born can be seen over time in the rising rates of homeownership, citizenship, 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 can be found here.