As immigrants and their descendants become integrated into American society, many aspects of their lives improve: They achieve higher levels of education, secure better jobs, make more money, and enhance their language ability. Many other realities, on the other hand, impede successful integration into American life altogether – factors such as legal status, racial disparities in socio-economic outcomes, and low naturalization rates.
This, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and co-authored by BCSSW Associate Dean of Research and Dorothy Book Scholar David Takeuchi which paints a broad picture across the spectrum of immigration in America, while delineating the realities of integration in unprecedented detail.
The quality of this master work in scholarship was significant enough for The Washington Post to call the document “the most authoritative report on the subject in nearly two decades” produced by “a rockstar panel of sociologists, led by Harvard professor Mary Waters, [who] assembled everything that we know about how the foreign-born are assimilating into American society.”
“Why should we care about the report? It is because our lives are all touched by immigration,” explains Takeuchi. “Approximately 41 million immigrants in the United States represent about 13 percent of the American population; this percentage is only slightly lower than it was 100 years ago. One in four people in the U.S. is an immigrant or has a parent who is an immigrant.”
Notably, the report includes data that goes against some current perceptions on immigrants living in America, while providing solid scientific counterarguments to the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has seemed to swell in recent weeks and months. In fact, its “findings may come as a surprise to those who believe today’s immigrants pose a serious, emerging threat to American society,” wrote Post reporter Jeff Guo. “America’s immigrants, as it turns out, are doing alright.”
Case(s) in point proved in the report: Immigrants have lower crime, arrest and incarceration rates than native-born Americans. Immigrants, on average, tend to have better health outcomes than native-born Americans. More immigrants now live in the suburbs than in cities, and the percentage of immigrants who are undocumented has actually decreased from its peak in 2007.
“The force of integration is strong,” Waters told The New York Times, in an article that effectively summarizes many of the findings of the report. “However we do it, we are good at it.”
Immigrant Integration is an issue that is especially important to BC Social Work. Learn more about our school’s Immigrant Integration Lab, directed by Associate Professor and immigration expert Westy Egmont.