Since taking office, President Donald Trump has made it a priority to restrict legal immigration to the United States. To bolster its anti-immigration policies, the Trump administration has pushed the narrative that poor immigrants are a drain on government resources. New research by UC Davis professor Santiago Pérez sheds light on the economic mobility of immigrants and suggests the government’s view may be shortsighted.
Pérez, along with colleagues from Stanford and Princeton, found that the children of poor immigrants have greater success climbing the economic ladder than their U.S.-born counterparts. The research, which Pérez conducted with Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan and Elisa Jácome, was published in October and received national media attention.
This finding adds to another recent study by two of the paper’s coauthors and UC Davis economics professor Katherine Eriksson, which shows immigrants assimilate to American culture at similar rates today as they did historically. “There is some nostalgia regarding past immigration waves, who are described as having assimilated faster than immigrants today,” Pérez said. “Politicians tend to adopt a very short-term perspective on immigrant assimilation, but such a perspective likely underestimates the progress of immigrant families over the long run.”
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