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Letter to the Editor, RE: Immigrants Growing Role in US Poverty Cited, The Washington Post

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 99090859 (posted Sep. 8, 1999)"

September 8, 1999

Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20071

To The Editor:

It is baffling that the editors of the Washington Post would permit such an uncritical article about a "study" from a known anti-immigrant group to be published ("Immigrants' Growing Role in U.S. Poverty Cited," September 2).

Here are some facts that were missing from the article: First, while the study alleges that immigrants supposedly hurt the native-born, the study also concedes that the poverty rate for native-born Americans has declined while immigration has continued at a healthy pace. So where is the harm that the immigrants were supposed to cause? The study's author would have a better case if he could show native-born poverty rates are on the increase, but the opposite is the case.

Second, the article did not contain the most important fact of all: that poverty rates for immigrants decline significantly with time spent in the United States. An analysis of 1996 Census data by the Cato Institute's Stephen Moore shows that within 15 years of arrival a typical immigrant has about the same poverty rate as natives and within approximately 20 years of arrival an immigrant's poverty rate is actually lower than it is for the native-born. Also within 20 years, more than 60 percent of immigrants own their own homes, according to research by Gregory Rodriguez for the National Immigration Forum.

The Center for Immigration Studies, which produced the study, was started by the organizers of the anti-immigrant group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The Center's current executive director used to work for that organization. The public and policy makers should be aware that this misleading study was really designed to be just another attack on immigrants.


Palma R. Yanni
Member, Executive Committee