Nearly one in 10 people living in the United States are foreig-born, the country's highest percentage of immigrants since the 1930s, according to a new Census Bureau report.
California - by far the state with the largest immigrant population - contains 8 million foreign-born, one-quarter of its population, the bureau said. That represents the highest figure for this century, as well as an almost threefold increase from the percentage in 1970.
The census report, which makes no distinction between legal and illegal immigrants, confirms the long-held image of newcomers pulling themselves up from economic hardship ovber time. Though large numbers of immigrants initially suffer from poverty and unemployment, those who arrived in the 1970s are now as financially stable as natives, the study found.
Nor is the unemployment rate inordinately high among immigrants. Just under 5% of the foreign-born were out of work when the census survey was conducted in March 1996, compared to slightly under 4% among the native-born population.
The report offers vivid evidence of the changing origins of the nation's latest immigration wave. Mote than one-quarter were born in Mexico (27%), 12% came from other parts of Central America or South America, and 27% came from Asia. By contrast, as recently as the 1950s three quarters of U.S. immigrants came from either Europe or Canada.
California remains the pacesetter for this trend. Among its total immigrant population, 42% come from Mexico and 9% from Centarl American countries (with more than half of these coming from El Salvador). Asian countries account for 33% of the state's immigrants (of these, 25% come from the Philippines, 13% from Vietnam and 9% from Korea).
The new report comes at a time when large-scale immigration has raised concern among many native-born Americans. (...)
According to the report:

  • The foreign-born make up 9.3% of U.S. population, a dramatic increase from the 4.8% figure in 1970 but still below the peak of about 15% during the great migrations early this century. In raw numbers, 24,557,000 U.S. residents are foreign-born.

  • Overall, 32% of the foreign-born have become citizens. That percentage rises with length of stay, in part because immigrants must be residents for at least five years to apply for citizenship.

  • Latinos, who can be of any race, accounted for 40% of the nation's immigrant population. By race, 68% of the immigrants were white, 24% were Asian and Pacific Islanders, 8% were black. Foreign-born people are just as likely as those born in this country to obtain college degrees - the figure for both groups among those at least 25 years old is about 24%.

  • But immigrants also are less likely to have high school diplomas - among the native-born population, 84% of those over 25 have diplomas; among immigrants, the figure drops to 64.4%. (...)

  • Immigrants who arrived here in the 1970s have a 1995 median annual income of $17,403; the figure for those born here is $17,835. The median annual income for immigrants who came to the United States since 1990 is $10,875.

    The poverty rate for immigrants was 22.2%, compared with 12.9% for the Amwerican-born. Not surprisungly, pro- and anti-immigration advocacy groups focused on different findings in the report.
    For Ira Mehlman, media director for the Federation for American Immigartion Reform, the relatively high level of poverty among immigrants causes concern. He said immigrants are admitted to the United States largely based on family ties to a U.S. citizen, regardless of their job skills, leading, therefore, to the big level of poverty among newcomers.
    Mehlman's group supports much stricter limits on who is permitted into the country, arguing that the emphasis should be on those who can bring needed skills. "Any immigration policy that is not designed to serve the interests of the nation is going to have consequences for the antion, " Mehlman said. "We are going to see increases in poverty, crime, social divisions and schools that can't keep up with the burden."
    Frank Sharry, executive director for the National Immigration Forum, said that looking at the poverty among new immigrants, rather than they improve their economic conditions over time, is unfair.
    694 words

    Source: Los Angeles Times, April 9, 1997

    1. Describe the development of the immigrant situation in the United States in the past 30 years.
    2. What basic differences are there concerning immigration between Germany and the United States?
    3. Should immigration to Germany be limited? If yes, what people would you grant asylum?

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