While much of our work focuses on the immediate survival and basic self-sufficiency of refugee families, the importance of long-term immigrant integration cannot be understated.
A new report, published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, takes a very thorough look (400+ pages!) at the issue of integration, and has found that despite the many challenges of integration, the overall picture is positive.
You can download a PDF version of the full report for free. Or, if you’re like most of us, and don’t anticipate having the time to read a 400 page report anytime soon, here is a quick overview of the report’s findings from a recent New York Times article:
- The newest generations of immigrants are assimilating into American society as fast and broadly as the previous ones, with their integration increasing over time “across all measurable outcomes.”
- The desire on the part of immigrants to learn English is very high and immigrants are acquiring English proficiency as rapidly or faster now than earlier waves of mainly European immigrants in the 20th century.
- Immigrants’ education levels, the diversity of their jobs, their wages and their mastery of English improved as they lived for more time in the United States, and the gains were even greater for their American-born children.
- About 50 percent of the foreign-born say they speak English “very well” or “well,” and almost one quarter of immigrants have college degrees.
- The study found that first generation immigrant men ages 18 to 39 were incarcerated at about one-fourth the rate of American men in that group. Additionally, cities and neighborhoods with greater concentrations of immigrants have much lower rates of crime and violence than similar places without immigrants.
While studies like these are interesting from a sociological perspective, they can also provide useful talking points for those times when you need to be just a little more persuasive to win over a hesitant employer.