E.g., 04/24/2014
E.g., 04/24/2014

Immigrants in the United States: How Well Are They Integrating into Society?

Immigration is a prominent part of the United States’ DNA. Nevertheless, concerns still exist about immigrants’ ability to integrate into broader society. While integration entails uncomfortable adjustments among immigrants, their descendants, and host societies, so far U.S. immigrant integration has occurred essentially without policy intervention and relatively little federal funding, relying instead primarily on a strong labor market and high-quality public education. Just as previous immigrants incorporated into mainstream American life, an examination of the most recent inflow of immigrants shows they are integrating well, according to five indicators: language proficiency, socioeconomic attainment, political participation, residential locale, and social interaction.

Full integration into U.S. society and economy generally takes more than one generation, with children of immigrants reliably outperforming their parents in educational attainment, occupational status, wealth, and home ownership. Residential segregation also decreases between first and second generations, and rates of intermarriage between ethnic and racial groups increase. Language proficiency improves dramatically as well.

While proceeding steadily, progress among different immigrant groups in the United States is highly uneven, and the size of the unauthorized population continues to be a powerful barrier to social cohesion and full social, economic, and political integration. Additionally, the present state of public education and the weakened U.S. economy will remain areas of concern in coming years if the current laissez-faire integration approach is maintained.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Immigrants in the United States

III. Dimensions of Integration

A. Language

B. Socioeconomic Integration

C. Residential Integration

D. Political Integration

E. Social Integration

IV. A Role for Policy

Challenges to Integration

V. Conclusion: The Road Ahead for Integration