Latest Pew Data Shows Immigrants Still Lag Behind U.S. Citizens in Key Categories



Every year, the American Community Survey (ACS) – a project conducted by the Census Bureau – creates a snapshot of the current demographic and economic makeup of the United States’ population. This data is crucial for determining information such as how many migrants reside in the country during any given year, and acts as the foundation for FAIR’s regular illegal alien population estimates.

However, since the data is not well-sorted, research organizations such as the Pew Research Center and FAIR spend hundreds of hours every year creating estimates that are easily accessible to the general public.

On August 20, Pew released their “Facts on U.S. Immigrants, 2018” (ACS data typically runs about two years behind the current year). In general, the data show that the lives of migrants improved once President Trump took office. However, it also reveals that immigrants still trail far behind U.S. citizens in key areas. Some highlights are detailed below:

  • The total number of foreign-born individuals residing in the United States increased to approximately 44,761,000. This is an increase of more than 350,000 from the year before.
  • 49 percent of migrants aged 25 and older only have a high school degree or less. While this is a slight improvement from 2017 estimates, it still remains approximately 10 percent higher than the U.S. average. Furthermore, only 32 percent of migrants have completed a Bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to the national average of 53 percent.
  • Just over 15 percent of the total foreign-born population lives in poverty. Once again, this figure is far higher than the national average. Additionally, nearly 18 percent of non-citizens currently live below the poverty line.
  • A troubling 20 percent of foreign-born individuals in the United States are without health insurance, compared with roughly 6 to 7 percent for U.S. citizens.
  • Only 53 percent of immigrants “speak English at least very well.”

These figures further detail how broken the American immigration system remains. Especially in a time where millions of American citizens have lost their livelihoods due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to ensure that those who are admitted to the United States have the necessary skills, education, and finances to ensure their own well-being in this country.

The best way to improve these concerning figures is to end damaging “chain-migration” policies that favor blood-lines over merit. This could be achieved by passing the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, or a similar piece of legislation. The RAISE act would place priority on those immigrants who hold job skills that are currently needed in the U.S. economy, as well as those who possess the education and language-skills required to succeed at a high level in this country.

A responsible immigration system takes into account the best interests of the host country, and the citizens that reside in it. That includes making sure that new immigrants have the means to care for themselves and their families. These latest figures show that the United States is not living up to that responsibility.

About Author

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Spencer joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2015. He conducts research, and writes content for FAIR’s publications and website. He brings previous experience in state politics, gubernatorial and district campaigns, and D.C. political non-profits. Spencer holds a B.A. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.

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