Immigration has increased the number of highly educated people in the United States. Many first-generation immigrants have very low levels of education and many are highly skilled. Immigrant children perform exceptionally well academically and are typically found in the upper tiers of the occupational distribution. Yet, these achievements are not equal to those of native-born Americans. Many of these immigrants also lack English proficiency, which reflects the lack of human capital they brought to the United States.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 40 million people in the United States were born abroad. That’s one-fifth of the world’s population. The Pew Research Center publishes statistical portraits of the nation’s foreign-born population. The statistics cover historical trends since 1960. They also include information on the number of children in the United States. However, the numbers are not representative of the entire country’s foreign-born population.
There are many reasons why people immigrate. Some move to another country in search of employment opportunities, education, or family. Others migrate to fulfill a dream or escape danger. But regardless of the reason, all immigrants are living human beings. As such, they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. The question is: What makes them leave their home and seek refuge in another country? It may be for a better job, a better education, or a better life.
Although the number of illegal immigrants has steadily increased, recent research indicates that racial segregation is not a significant cause for the increased ethnicity of immigrants. Immigration has also increased language diversity in the United States. Eighty-five percent of foreign-born people in the country speak a language other than English at home. In fact, 62 percent of immigrants speak Spanish. It is difficult to measure the effects of illegality on ethnic integration.
While fear of deportation has led many to seek legal assistance for their status, there are steps that undocumented immigrants can take to protect their mental health and families. Understanding their rights and advocating for them can make a difference in the chances of separation from loved ones. Immigrants who have a criminal record may apply for a change in immigration status if they have been victims of crime. Immigration officials also recognize the need to protect individual information and privacy.
Immigration contributes significantly to the U.S. economy. Immigrants make up almost one-third of all U.S. citizens and contribute over a trillion dollars to the economy. Immigrant entrepreneurs generate tens of billions of dollars in business revenue each year. In fact, immigrants make up nearly one-fourth of the self-employed population in the country, and one-quarter of new businesses are founded by immigrants. The economic growth of immigrants is unprecedented.
The panel’s work on integration aims to provide a clear picture of how the majority of undocumented immigrants integrate into American society. Integration takes several forms. In the short term, it means that immigrants are more likely to participate in major social institutions, and become more like the majority of native-born Americans. As immigrants continue to integrate into society, they are better integrated, allowing them to contribute more effectively to their communities and the larger society.