Integration nation

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Integration = equal opportunity. Assimilation = leave your culture behind.

Who needs a soothsayer to tell us whether or not immigrants are likely to integrate into American society? The first-ever study to investigate the future of immigrant integration in the U.S. has been completed, and now we needn’t invent time travel to uncover future trends in immigrant income, education, English proficiency and homeownership.

Assimilation Tomorrow: How America’s Immigrants Will Integrate by 2030, a new study by the Center for American Progress, finds that the future of our community and our economy will be dependent on the assimilation of non-native-born Americans. 

The study, authored by Dowell Myers, a professor at the University of Southern California, and John Pitkin, senior research associate in the USC Population Dynamics Research Group, finds that in most cases, immigrants are more likely than not to assimilate in the coming decades. Using a control group of immigrants who arrived in the U.S. in the 1990s, the authors found that while only 25.5 percent of immigrants from the group owned homes in 2000, by 2030, the report claims, more than 70 percent will own property—a figure equal or slightly higher to homeowners among nonimmigrants.

The percentage of new immigrants fluent in English will rise from the current 57.5 percent to 70.3 percent by the year 2030, and the number of nonnatives living in poverty is estimated to fall from 22.8 percent to 13.4 percent.

A focus on Hispanic immigrants in the study reveals that they will follow the same upward trajectory as all other immigrants. In fact, the report suggests that nonnative Hispanics will experience higher achievements in the coming decades, in good part because they will advance from lower starting points. Perhaps of greatest interest to American politicians is the finding that Hispanic immigrants’ naturalization rates are expected to rise from 13 percent to a substantial 70.6 percent by 2030.

The report suggests that the successful assimilation of today’s new immigrants will be due largely to the all-American upbringing of their U.S.-born children. Whatever the reason, and according to the numbers in this report, tomorrow’s Americans will be made up mostly of last week’s newly arrived immigrants. 

Hmm … define assimilation, please.

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