While some GOP candidates have made statements pertaining to immigrants learning English and committing crimes in the United States, and have used them as talking points, a recent report suggests that immigrants are succeeding in learning English and are, on average, less likely to commit a violent crime than the average American.
A 443-page report, released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on Monday, studied “The Integration of Immigrants into American Society” and looked at how immigrants assimilate into American culture by learning English, adopting similar values and achieving certain socioeconomic outcomes.
The report compiled data from 41 million foreign-born immigrants in the United States, 11.3 million or over 25 percent of which are undocumented.
Several of the GOP candidates have made statements concerning the use of English as the official language of the United States, and have suggested that immigrants should speak English exclusively.
Carly Fiorina told CNN that “English is the official language of the United States.” However, Think Progress noted that the United States does not have an official language, but that “many states have already passed or are trying to pass legislation to make their official state language English.”
During the second GOP debate, hosted by CNN last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that while he wouldn’t deport millions of undocumented individuals in the same way that candidates such as Donald Trump have called for, he does think they should learn to speak English.
“They can come here, but they should learn to speak our language,” Graham said. “I don’t speak it very well, but look how far I’ve come.”
The report states that “there is evidence that integration is happening as rapidly or faster now than it did for the earlier waves of mainly European immigrants in the 20th century.” This knowledge is influenced by the fact that many of the immigrants have taken English classes in their native countries or have been exposed to English media.
[pull_quote_center]Today, many immigrants arrive already speaking English as a first or second language. Currently, about 50 percent of the foreign-born in surveys report they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well,’ while less than 10 percent say they speak English ‘not at all.’ [/pull_quote_center]
The stereotype of immigrants as violent criminals has been used by GOP candidate Donald Trump, who kicked off his presidential campaign with choice words on immigration.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
In contrast to Trump’s statements, the report claimed that “increased prevalence of immigrants is associated with lower crime rates,” and that “among men age 18-39, the foreign-born are incarcerated at a rate that is one-fourth the rate for the native-born.”
[pull_quote_center]Cities and neighborhoods with greater concentrations of immigrants have much lower rates of crime and violence than comparable nonimmigrant neighborhoods. This phenomenon is reflected not only across space but also over time.[/pull_quote_center]
The report noted that there is also evidence that crime rates for the second and third generations from immigrant families “rise to more closely match the general population of native-born Americans.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose parents are Indian immigrants, used the idea of a lack of immigrant assimilation to criticize the presence of “hyphenated Americans,” using the phrase “immigration without assimilation is invasion.”
“We need to insist people that want to come to our country should come legally, should learn English and adopt our values, roll up their sleeves, and get to work,” Jindal said.
According to the report, current immigrants and their descendants are integrating into U.S. society, and they have found that the outcomes of “educational attainment, occupational distribution, income, residential integration, language ability, and living above the poverty line,” increase when they “become more similar to the native-born and improve their situation over time.”
[pull_quote_center]Across all measurable outcomes, integration increases over time, with immigrants becoming more like the native-born with more time in the country, and with the second and third generations becoming more like other native-born Americans than their parents were.[/pull_quote_center]
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