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Latest Immigrant Arrivals Care Little for Citizenship

  • Today's established immigrant population is poorer than ever. And the overwhelming majority of them don't bother to become citizens, buy homes or finish high school.
By James P. Tucker, Jr.

Not only are they coming in greater numbers to live in the U.S. but immigrants of the past 30 years are much poorer, less educated and less likely to own homes or become citizens than their predecessors, a new study shows.

America's immigrant population has tripled to about 30 million, reported the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, which conducted the research.

Among the findings:

  • Over the past 30 years the percentage of established immigrants who have chosen to become citizens has declined dramatically. In 1970, 63.6 percent were citizens, but in 2000 only 38.9 percent of established immigrants had become citizens.
  • In 1970, established immigrants who had lived here more than 10 years were less likely to be poor, with only 25.7 percent living in or near poverty, compared to 35.1 percent of natives. By 2000, the situation had reversed, with 41.4 percent of established immigrants living in or near poverty, compared with 28.8 percent of natives.
  • Thirty years ago, 56.8 percent of established immigrant households were homeowners, compared to 63.4 percent of natives -- a 6.6 percentage-point difference. In 2000, only 45.5 percent of established immigrant households were homeowners. This is almost 24 percentage points lower than natives, whose share has not changed.


"The deterioration in the position of immigrants is primarily explained by a significant decline in the educational attainment of immigrants relative to natives," the report said.

In 1970, 7 percentage points separated the high school completion rates of established immigrants and natives.

By 2000, established immigrants were more than three times as likely as natives to lack a high school education. In 2000, 34.4 percent of established immigrants and 9.6 percent of natives lacked a high school deploma.