Report Demolishes Myths About US Immigrants

Crime, divorce rates lower in immigrant communities than native-born ones
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2015 1:49 PM CDT
A migrant child waves from a train at a station in Vienna, Austria, Sept. 6, 2015.   (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

(Newser) – Donald Trump may want to build a wall to keep immigrants out, but the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests he might be unnecessarily fearful. "The Integration of Immigrants Into American Society" report notes that not only is the current generation of immigrants assimilating just as well as previous generations, but that once they've been in the US for a while, they make great strides in their education, wages, and English-speaking ability, and their kids born here do even better, the New York Times reports. The report also found communities with a high concentration of first-generation immigrants often fared better in certain areas than communities with mostly native-borns, boasting lesser rates of crime, incarceration, and out-of-wedlock births, a press release notes. "The force of integration is strong," Mary Waters, the report's lead scholar, tells the Times. "However we do it, we are good at it."

There are 41 million first-generation immigrants in the US, as well as 37 million children who were born here, per the release. Another stereotype taken on in the report: Although 85% of foreign-born immigrants speak a language other than English at home, about half say they speak English "well" or "very well," with only 10% admitting they don't speak it at all. "The desire on the part of immigrants to learn English is very high," Waters tells the Times. It's "not something people should be worried about." Another discovery the researchers found surprising: that immigrants and their kids enjoy better health overall than native-born Americans, meaning they're not as much of a drain on the health care system as they're sometimes accused of being. A caveat: The better crime and health rates, among others, approach that of the native population as time and generations go by, the release notes.

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