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Center for American Progress

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

PRESS RELEASE: Assimilation Today – New Evidence on the Advancement of Immigrants in New Jersey’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 New Jersey are assimilating at higher than average rates for foreign born residents across the U.S., more frequently earning above low income levels, home ownership, and having higher English proficiency and citizenship rates, according to a new study released today by the Center for American Progress.

In the Garden State, where one out of five residents is an immigrant, the assimilation rates also are usually higher than national averages, whether immigrants have resided in the U.S. for more than 18 years, or arrived since 2000 based on new research from the U.S. Census Bureau data through 2008.

As in New Jersey, 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 New Jersey:

  • Immigrants make up 20 percent of the state’s population.
  • Almost 71 percent of New Jersey immigrants who have resided in the United States 18 to 27 years are now citizens, 11 points above the national average. For Latino immigrants, the rate is two points above the average for Latino foreign born across the United States.
  • The English proficiency and citizenship rates, and income levels exceeding low income for immigrants in New Jersey is higher than the national average, whether they arrived more than 18 years ago or in the last eight years.
  • Latino immigrants who have been here between 18 and 27 years also exceed the national assimilation rate averages in the areas of English proficiency, citizenship, and earnings above low income.

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.