Immigration to US surpasses previous record
Despite tough and tighter security measures, immigration, both legal and illegal, is on the rise in the US while the nation is poised to debate fundamental changes to its immigration system.
An analysis of new Census Bureau data shows that nearly eight million immigrants have settled in the country since January 2000, nearly half of them illegal aliens, the highest five-year period of immigration on record.
According to a report, 'Immigrants at Mid-Decade: A Snapshot of America's Foreign-Born Population in 2005', released on Monday by the Centre for Immigration Studies, some 35.2 million immigrants entered the United States during the fastest five years of immigrant growth in US history.
The centre, a Washington-based think tank that supports tougher enforcement of immigration laws and increased deportations, said that the number of immigrants as of March was 2 1/2 times the peak of the last great US immigration wave in 1910.
Basing its findings on a March population survey by the Census Bureau, the centre found the percentage of immigrants in the overall population is at its highest level in eight decades. Immigrants account for 12.1 per cent of the total US population, compared with 4.7 per cent in 1970.
"This corrects the notion that immigration has really slowed as a result of September 11, or as a result of the economy, or anything else," said Steven Camarota, author and director of research at the Centre for Immigration Studies.
Immigration has grown into an awkward but pressing political issue as conservatives call for tighter controls and more protections for low-skilled American workers. "It means a lot more jobs competition, and that's not all bad," said Camarota regarding the rising number of immigrants.
"But our fellow Americans who have less education take it on the chin." Camarota notes in the report that 31 per cent of adult immigrants have not completed high school, more than three times the rate for native-born citizens.
Immigrant-headed households are also more likely to rely on welfare, the report found.
Immigrants were once significantly more likely to have a college degree, but the new data show that natives are now as likely as immigrants to have a bachelor's or graduate degree.
"The difference in the educational attainment of immigrants and natives has enormous implications for the social and economic integration of immigrants into American society. There is no single better predictor of economic success than education," the report said.
Nearly half of post-2000 arrivals (3.7 million) are estimated to be illegal aliens. States with the largest increase in immigrants are, in descending order, California, Texas, Georgia, New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, Washington, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Arizona, Tennessee, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Mississippi.
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