What Immigration Really Does to Schools

By Center for Immigration Studies, Special for  USDR

A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies merges Census Bureau data with Google maps to provide a visual representation of the impact of immigration on public schools at the local level in every state and metropolitan area.  The analysis is based on Public Use Micro Areas (PUMAs), which average 20,600 students.  The findings show that the number of students from immigrant households is so large in many areas that it raises profound questions about assimilation.  Immigration has also added significantly to the number of students in poverty and the number who speak a foreign language, creating significant challenges for many  schools.

“Of course, we must educate the children of immigrants,” said Steven Camarota, the Center’s Director of Research and the report’s lead author.  “However, the key question moving forward is whether it makes sense to continue to admit one million new legal permanent immigrants each year and to tolerate illegal immigration without regard to the absorption capacity of our schools, in terms of both educating students and assimilating  them.”

The full report and interactive map can found here  http://cis.org/Map-Students-Immigrant-Households

Among the finding in the report:

  • Almost one out of four (23 percent) public school students in America came from an immigrant household in 2015.  As recently as 1990, it was 11 percent and in 1980 it was just 7 percent.
  • In 2015, between one-fourth and one-third of public school students from immigrant households were the children of illegal immigrants, the remainder were the children from legal immigrants.
  • Immigrant households are concentrated; just 700 Census Bureau-designated PUMAs account for two-thirds of students from immigrant households, these same PUMAs account for only one-thirds of total public school enrollment.
  • In these 700 immigrant-heavy areas half the students are from immigrant households.
  • There are many PUMAs in which well more than half the students are from immigrant households, for example:
    • 93 percent in Northeast Dade County, North Central Hialeah City, Fla.
    • 91 percent in Jackson Heights and North Corona, New York City, N.Y.
    • 85 percent in Westpark Tollway between Loop I-610 & Beltway Houston, Texas.
    • 83 percent in El Monte and South El Monte Cities, Calif.
    • 78 percent in Annandale & West Falls Church, Va.
    • 74 percent in Fort Lee, Cliffside Park & Palisades Park, N.J.
  • In the top 700 immigrant-heavy areas, one sending-country typically predominates.  On average the top sending country accounts for 52 percent of students from immigrant households in these areas.
  • On average students from immigrant households live in a PUMA in which 41 percent of their fellow public school students are also from immigrant households. In contrast, on average students from native households live in a PUMA in which 17 percent of students are from immigrant households.
  • Immigration has added disproportionately to the number of low-income students in public school.  In 2015, 28 percent of public school students from immigrant households lived in poverty and they accounted for 30 percent of all students living below the poverty line.
  • Immigrants often settle in area of high poverty, adding to the challenges for schools in these areas.  In the two hundred PUMAs with the highest poverty rates in the country, where poverty among students averages 46 percent, nearly one-third of students are from immigrant households.
  • Immigration has added enormously to the population of students who speak a foreign language.  In 2015, 23 percent of public school students spoke a language other than English at home.  This compares to 14 percent in 1990 and 9 percent in 1980.
  • On average public school students who themselves speak a foreign language at home, live in an area in which 42 percent of their fellow students also speak a foreign language.
  • Many local schools struggle to deal with a multiplicity of foreign languages, which likely creates enormous challenges.  In 315 PUMAs (combined enrollment 6.7 million) 10 or more foreign languages are spoken by public school students.
  • Some of the metropolitan areas where students from immigrant households account for the largest share of enrollment include: San Jose, CA 60%; Los Angeles, CA 57%; Miami, FL 54%; McAllenEdinburg, TX 50%; San Francisco, CA 50%; Yuma, AZ 50%; Naples, FL 46%; Laredo, TX 45%; Las Cruces, NM 44%; New York, NY 44%; Yakima, WA 44%; Fresno, CA 43%, Trenton, NJ 42%; Brownsville, TX 42%; Las Vegas, NV 38%; Washington, DC 37%; Gainesville, GA 36%.

SOURCE Center for Immigration  Studies

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