The study, A Profile of America's Foreign-Born Population, reveals that both legal and illegal immigrants to the United States are more likely to be living in poverty twenty years after their arrival than natives.
Immigrants comprise about one fourth of all persons living in poverty.
According to the study, the number of immigrants living in the country hit a new high in 2010 at 40 million. That's a 20 percent increase over 2010.
"36 percent of immigrant-headed households used at least one major welfare program (primarily food assistance and Medicaid) compared to 23 percent of native households," the study said.
57 percent of immigrants from Mexico used a major welfare program as did 55 percent from Guatemala, and 54 percent from the Dominican Republic.
Immigrants from European countries were unlikely to use major welfare programs. The "lowest for those from Canada (13 percent), Germany (10 percent), and the United Kingdom (6 percent)," the study concluded.
The study also revealed that:
• Health Insurance Coverage
In 2010, 29 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) lacked health insurance, compared to 13.8 percent of natives and their children.
New immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for two-thirds of the increase in the uninsured since 2000.
Among the top sending countries, the highest rates of uninsurance are for those from Guatemala (46 percent), Honduras (44 percent), El Salvador (44 percent), and Mexico (41 percent); and lowest for those from Canada (9 percent), Japan (8 percent), and Germany (5 percent).
• Public Schools
There are 10.4 million students from immigrant households in public schools, accounting for one in five public school students. Of these students, 78 percent speak a language other than English at home.
Overall, one in four public school students now speaks a language other than English at home.
Of immigrant households, 53 percent are owner-occupied, compared to 68 percent of native households.
Rates of home ownership are highest for immigrants from Italy (83 percent), Germany (75 percent), and the United Kingdom (73 percent); and lowest for those from Guatemala (30 percent), Honduras (28 percent), and the Dominican Republic (24 percent).
• Housing Overcrowding
In 2010, 13 percent of immigrant households were overcrowded, compared to 2 percent of native households.
Immigrant households account for half of all overcrowded households.
Immigrants and natives have very similar rates of entrepreneurship — 11.7 percent of natives and 11.5 percent of immigrants are self-employed.
Among the top sending countries, self-employment is highest for immigrants from Korea (26 percent), Canada (24 percent), and the United Kingdom (17 percent). It is lowest for those from Haiti (6 percent), Honduras (5 percent), and Jamaica (3 percent).
• Educational Attainment
Of adult immigrants (25 to 65), 28 percent have not completed high school, compared to 7 percent of natives.
The share of immigrants (25 to 65) with at least a bachelor’s degree is somewhat lower than that of natives — 29 vs. 33 percent.
The large share of immigrants with relatively little education is one of the primary reasons for their lower socioeconomic status, not their legal status or an unwillingness to work.
At the same time immigration added significantly to the number of less-educated workers, the share of young, less-educated natives holding a job declined significantly.
The decline began well before the current economic downturn.
• Progress Over Time
Many immigrants make significant progress the longer they live in the country. However, on average even immigrants who have lived in the United States for 20 years have not come close to closing the gap with natives.
The poverty rate of adult immigrants who have lived in the United States for 20 years is 50 percent higher than that of adult natives.
The share of adult immigrants who have lived in the United States for 20 years who lack health insurance is twice that of adult natives.
The share of households headed by an immigrant who has lived in the United States for 20 years using one or more welfare programs is nearly twice that of native-headed households.
The share of households headed by an immigrant who has lived in the United States for 20 years that are owner occupied is 22 percent lower than that of native households.
• Legal Status
We estimate that 28 percent of all immigrants are in the country illegally. Roughly half of Mexican and Central American and one-third of South American immigrants are here illegally.
• Impact on Population Size and Age
New immigration (legal and illegal) plus births to immigrants added 22.5 million residents to the country over the last decade, equal to 80 percent of total U.S. population growth.
Recent immigration has had only a tiny impact on the nation’s age structure. If the nearly 14 million immigrants who arrived in 2000 or later are excluded, it raises the average age in the United States in 2010 from 37.4 years to 37.6 years — roughly two months.
• State Data
Among top immigrant-receiving states, poverty among immigrants and their children is highest in Arizona (37 percent), North Carolina (29 percent), and Minnesota (29 percent). It is lowest in Massachusetts (17 percent) Maryland (13 percent), and New Jersey (13 percent).
Among top immigrant-receiving states, welfare use by immigrant households is highest in Minnesota (48 percent), New York (41 percent), and Texas (45 percent). It is lowest in Virginia (20 percent), Georgia (30 percent), and Nevada (25 percent).
Among top immigrant-receiving states, home ownership for immigrant households is highest in Florida (61 percent), Illinois (61 percent), and Maryland (59 percent). It is lowest in California (48 percent), Massachusetts (47 percent), and Minnesota (46 percent).
Among top immigrant-receiving states, the share of adult immigrants who have not completed high school is highest in Texas (46 percent), Colorado (41 percent), and North Carolina (36 percent). It is lowest in Virginia (15 percent), Massachusetts (15 percent), and Florida (16 percent).
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