The idea of economic mobility in America often evokes a personal story. For many Americans, it is one of immigrant parents or grandparents, or even one’s own journey and arrival. In recent decades, immigration has been rising steadily, with nearly one million legal immigrants entering the country per year throughout the 1990s and in the early years of this century, compared to only about 300,000 per year in the 1960s. In addition to legal immigrants, it is estimated that about 500,000 illegal immigrants now arrive each year.
These numbers clearly show that the allure of the American Dream is alive and well. But is it actually working for today’s immigrants? How has immigrant economic mobility changed over time? And is immigrant economic mobility similar to that of U.S. citizens?
This report by the Economic Mobility Project explains that the American engine of economic assimilation continues to be a powerful force, but the engine is incorporating a fundamentally different and larger pool of immigrants than it did in earlier generations. The shifting educational and economic profile of today’s immigrants is provoking difficult and important questions about the economic prospects for immigrants in America today.