A new report from the National Academy of Sciences dispels many myths being spread about the integration of immigrants into American society.
The current presidential campaign has been among the most misleading in our history about the 41 million immigrants in this country, and this scientific research is an important corrective.
The report, which focuses on the integration of immigrants into American society, found that today’s immigrants are learning to speak English “as rapidly or faster now than earlier waves of mainly European immigrants in the 20th Century.”
The children of immigrants also speak English at rates similar to earlier generations of the children of immigrants, and the report finds that by the third generation there is a significant loss of the ancestral language. In fact, by the third generation, even in the Mexican American communities in the Southwest, only 4% speak Spanish at home.
The report confirmed the good effects of immigration on crime rates. According to the study, “increased prevalence of immigrants is associated with lower crime rates -the opposite of what many Americans fear.” Contrary to the claims of some politicians, “cities and neighborhoods with greater concentrations of immigrants have much lower rates of crime and violence than non-immigrant neighborhoods.” Immigrant men aged 18-39, prime time for criminal activity, are incarcerated at a rate that is only one-quarter of the rate for the native-born, according to the report.
The report does note that a significant hindrance to immigrant integration is legal status.
Approximately 4% of people in the United States are undocumented. Because of fear and limited resources, these immigrants live in the most segregated neighborhoods and have access to the fewest opportunities to learn English. In many states they are effectively barred receiving a college education. Immigration reform is one way to break down this barrier, although the report says that that is a political question beyond its scope.
You can read the full report here: