Nearly one in five people living in the United States speaks a language at home other than English, according to new Census data that illustrate the wide-ranging effects of immigration.
The number of immigrants nationwide reached an all-time high of 37.5 million in 2006, affecting incomes and education levels in many cities across the country. But the effects have not been uniform.
In most states, immigrants have added to the number of those lacking a high-school diploma, with almost half of those from Latin America falling into that category.
However, at the other end of the education spectrum, Asian immigrants are raising average education levels in many states, with nearly half of them holding at least a bachelor's degree.
"There is no one-size-fits-all policy that you could apply for all immigrant groups," said Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau. "I think most of the attention has been on low-skilled workers coming from Mexico. But we have 10 million immigrants from Asia, a number that's growing."
The Census Bureau on Wednesday released a host of demographic data about the nation, including statistics on immigration, housing, education and employment.
The data come from the American Community Survey, an annual survey of 3 million households that has replaced the Census Bureau's long-form questionnaire from the once-a-decade census. It does not distinguish between illegal immigrants and those who are in the US legally.
Mather analyzed the differences in education levels among immigrants from Asia and those from Latin America. Together, the groups account for about 80 percent of all immigrants.
About 48 percent of Asian immigrants held at least a bachelor's degree, compared with about 11 percent of immigrants from Latin America. Among people born in the US, about 27 percent were college graduates.
"Driving this are people coming from China and India," Mather said. "They are either coming with a bachelor's degree, or they are coming with visas and getting degrees once they arrive."
At the other end of the spectrum, 47 percent of adult immigrants from Latin America lacked a high school diploma, compared with 16 percent of Asian immigrants and 13 percent of people born in the US.
Source: China Daily/agencies