Center for American Progress

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

PRESS RELEASE: Assimilation Today – New Evidence on the Advancement of Immigrants in Illinois’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 Illinois earn better incomes than the average for foreign-born residents across the U.S., whether they arrived two decades ago or have been here just since 2000, according to a new study released today by the Center for American Progress.

In Illinois, where 14 percent of the state’s population is made up of immigrants, the citizenship and homeownership rates, and rates of earnings above low income for those who have been here longer than 18 years exceed the national average.

As in Illinois, immigrants across the United States are assimilating at high rates, advancing fastest in the areas of homeownership and citizenship, notably in the first 18 years of residency, and showing increased 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 Illinois:

  • Immigrants make up 14 percent of the state’s population.
  • Just over 71 percent of Illinois immigrants who have resided in the United States 18 to 27 years now own homes, about 11 points above the national average. Latino immigrants with the same length of time in the United States also have a homeownership rate 11 points above the average for Latino foreign born across the nation.
  • The citizenship rate and rate of earnings above low income of foreign born in Illinois are above or near the national average, regardless of when they arrived in the U.S.
  • Illinois’s Latino immigrants who have lived in the United States at least 18 years rank higher than the national averages for English proficiency, citizenship, homeownership, and earnings above low income levels. Almost 6 out of 10 in this group speak only English or speak it very well, three points above the national average for Latino foreign born, based on new research of U.S. Census Bureau data through 2008.

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 can be found here.