Updated: Aug 18, 2020
How do immigrants in the U.S try to integrate in its society?
Immigrants from different parts of the world move towards the U.S in hope and search of an improved, better lifestyle and broadened opportunities. Many also seek refuge from violence-domestic abuse, sexual assault, gang violence, etcetera- in the country that 'welcomes' all. Once these hopeful people have arrived in the U.S,-the first generation immigrants-they need to start adapting to the new environment, surroundings, culture and the people. The 'need' for adaptation doesn't really ask of them to abandon their own culture or ethnicity, but it means that integration into the new society is what will help them survive and benefit from better opportunities. However, integration is a process that goes two ways, with the U.S born being affected due to the immigration and the immigrants trying to change themselves after they have arrived in the new land.
Below we are discussing a few critical areas of integration; their outcomes, the patterns and the views and efforts of immigrants.
Despite putting in extra hours of work and having the upper hand when participating among labor forces, immigrants are considered more prone to facing poverty than the natives. Although, it also depends on the racial status of these people; greatest rates have been observed among generations of Hispanics; black generations-especially second generations-are facing an alarming rise in poverty; some improvement has been seen for Asian Americans.
However, overall, the rates of poverty have fallen over the first, second and third generations; 18% to 13.6% to 11.5%, respectively. (First generation; immigrants right after arrival, second generation; the children of the first, third generation; grandchildren of the first)
Education has become paramount for most people living in the U.S and immigrants living there have also given the matter much importance. A significant improvement has been observed over the generations of immigrant groups, with members of the second generation studying up to equal or higher levels of education than the natives' third generation. About more 1/4th of the immigrant population has completed their college education.
Moreover, new immigrants arriving in the U.S consist of some highly and semi-skilled workers who contribute greatly to all sectors in the country; research, science, medicine, business etc. Even the third generation immigrants are earning good quality college degrees and striving for valuable jobs in the U.S.
In the U.S, thanks to the immigrating population, many diverse languages are spoken at home by more than 80% of them. But to analyze linguistic integration, what must be considered is the ability of the immigrant population to speak and understand the English language. Research studies and surveys conducted by different organizations around the country have shown that more than 50% of the foreign born have the ability to speak English either 'well' or 'very well'-a substantial progress as compared to the earlier immigrants-and around 10 percent reported that they don't speak the language. Many even report to have known the English language well before migrating. Members of second generation immigrant groups are the ones picking up English language the fastest with a significant rise in the number of English language learners at lower study levels.
However, when looking at the other, not-so-positive side of this integration, we see many migrants suffering because of linguistic barriers. The poor, uneducated/lowly educated, low-skilled and unauthorized immigrants along with those who face residential segregation are the ones that fall under this category. Funding provided for English-as-a-second-language is experiencing a declining slope which is worrisome.
Regardless of the extent the integration has gone to and what it has contributed to the betterment of immigrants’ lifestyles, in light of new immigration policies and activities of ICE in the United States, majority of them have displayed their innocent concerns about their security and status, fear of deportation and unnecessary trials over alleged crimes.