New Report: Accelerating “Americanization”
Promoting immigrant assimilation helps new arrivals, and the country, fare better
New York, NY – While President Biden’s recent shift to more proactive enforcement of the southern border underlines the importance of controlling immigration, it remains the case that America’s future depends on immigrants. How immigrants fare after entering the country is therefore an equally important—if less pressing—reality, and their contributions to American society hinge on one multifaceted factor: assimilation. Manhattan Institute graduate fellow Daniel Di Martino’s new report reveals the significance of, challenges to, and opportunities for promoting this key trait.
Di Martino documents how immigrants are faring relative to native-born Americans in several areas—including educational attainment, wage growth, occupational prestige, and marriage and family formation—and how states are competing for immigrants within the country. The findings suggest that there is space for both federal and state governments to “upskill” the existing immigrant population—making them more educated, competent in the English language, and economically productive—as well as future cohorts of immigrants who arrive in the United States.
Di Martino makes recommendations for how Congress can make the U.S. immigration system favor more highly educated, entrepreneurial, and English-proficient immigrants and how states might attract and retain more highly educated foreign-born residents, despite competition from other U.S. states. These include:
- Select Better Immigrants: Congress can make small tweaks to immigration law to favor more highly educated, entrepreneurial, and English-proficient immigrants.
- Lift Up Existing Immigrants: Support helping the existing immigrant population gain more useful skills, including English-language comprehension.
- Interstate Competition: States can implement targeted policies to retain highly educated immigrants, such as encouraging immigrants to enroll in college by lowering tuition rates for foreign-born applicants who agree to stay within the state and work for a certain number of years after graduation.