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Immigrants 10 Percent Of American Population

  • Immigrants now account for slightly more than 10 percent of the U.S. population but the resulting problems reach much higher percentages.
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By James P. Tucker Jr.

More than one in 10 people (10.4 percent) living in the United States are immigrants, legal or illegal, but the costs and burdens foreigners bring with them are far disproportionate to their numbers, a new study has found.

The report by the Center for Immigra tion Studies, released Jan. 4 in Washing ton, found that:

  • By the end of the 1990s, more than 1.2 million legal and illegal immigrants were settling in the United States each year;
  • The number of immigrants has more than tripled since 1970, from 9.6 million to 28.4 million. As a percentage of the U.S. population, immigrants have more than doubled, from 4.7 percent in 1970 to 10.4 percent in 2000.
  • Immigration has become the determinate factor in U.S. population growth. The 11.2 million who arrived since 1990 and the 6.4 million children born to immigrants in that decade are equal to roughly two-thirds of the population growth during that period.

"These new data confirm what many Americans are seeing with their own eyes -- the United States is in the midst of the largest sustained wave of immigration in its history," said the center's Steven Camarota in releasing the report.

Immigrants are concentrated in Cali fornia, New York and Florida. Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada have also seen significant immigration growth. Since millions of illegal aliens vote, they could prejudice elections. Immi grants account for 5.5 percent of all "eligible voters."

"Because current policy allows in so many people who lack a formal education, immigration has resulted in an enormous growth in the poor and uninsured populations," Camarota said. "The question has to be asked: is the country well served by our current immigration policy?"

Uneducated immigrants

One-third of recent immigrants lack a high school diploma, more than three times the rate for natives, the study found. More than half of post-1970 immigrants live in or near poverty, compared to 28 percent of natives.

"The limited value of their labor in an economy that increasingly demands educated workers means that the situation for many immigrants remains precarious, despite the current prosperity," Camarota said. "With the economy slowing, the situation for immigrant families is likely to deteriorate dramatically and the costs of immigration to become glaringly apparent."

The proportion of immigrant households on welfare is 30 to 50 percent higher than for natives, despite some limitations placed in recent years on benefits for illegal aliens, the study found.

Immigration accounts for virtually all of the increase in public school enrollment over the last two decades, the study found. This year, there are 8.6 million school-age children from immigrant families in the United States.

"Because all children born in the United States to immigrants are by definition na tives, the sole reason for the dramatic in crease in the immigrant population is new immigration," the report said.