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ed: The Wall Street Journal, a highly influential pro-business daily paper--has strongly supported the current proposals for immigration reform. The Wall Street Journal U.S. Edition Tuesday, June 18, 2013 Editorial REVIEW & OUTLOOK: "America's Assimilating Hispanics: The evidence shows they are following the path of earlier immigrants." As immigration reform moves through Congress, one claim by opponents is that this time immigration is different because the country's latest arrivals aren't assimilating. On the contrary, however, the evidence overwhelmingly shows that today's immigrants are acculturating and moving up the economic ladder like previous generations. The media's tendency to report "averages" in educational attainment, English-language skills, income and other traditional measures of assimilation can make it difficult to determine whether immigrants are making gains. Since Latino immigration continues, averaging together the poverty rates or homeownership levels of large numbers of people who arrived recently with those who have been here for decades can provide a skewed view of progress. Measuring assimilation properly requires following the same immigrants over generations. And the good news is that longitudinal studies that take this approach show that Latino immigrants have made gains similar to other groups who preceded them. Consider the claim that Hispanic immigrants are rejecting English in favor of a separate Spanish-speaking culture. Census data from 2005 show that only one-third of immigrants in the country for less than a decade speak English well, but that number climbs to nearly three-quarters for those here for 30 years or more. A 2007 Pew study of 14,000 Latino adults showed that while just 23% of immigrants report being able to speak English very well, "fully 88% of their U.S.-born adult children report that they speak English very well. Among later generations of Hispanic adults, the figure rises to 94%." All of this follows the traditional three-generation model of linguistic assimilation that characterized European immigrants in the last century. Typically, English is the dominant language of the second generation, and by the fourth generation fewer than a quarter can still speak the immigrant tongue. Educational progress among Latino immigrants is also evident, and it too fits a pattern shown by previous ethnic newcomers. Nearly half (47%) of foreign-born Hispanics lack a high-school diploma, but that number falls to 17% among their offspring. And 21% of second-generation Hispanics are college graduates, compared with 11% of foreign-born Hispanics residing in the U.S. Latino immigrants who have been in the U.S. for three decades or more are also more likely than recent arrivals to own a home, live in a family with an income above the federal poverty line and marry outside of their ethnic group—all common measures of assimilation. According to 2012 Census data, the median household income for second-generation Hispanics is $48,400, versus $34,600 for Hispanic immigrants and $58,200 for all groups. A Pew report from February on Hispanic and Asian immigrants—who comprise about 70% of foreign born adults in the U.S.—found that the second generation of both groups is more likely than immigrants to have friends outside of their ethnic or racial group, to say their group gets along well with others and to think of themselves as a "typical American." Pew also noted that "second-generation Hispanics and Asians place more importance than does the general public on hard work and career success." Like many Mexicans today, Italian immigrants who came in large numbers in the late 1800s and early 1900s valued work over education. Italy had one of the highest illiteracy rates in Europe at the time—62% in 1871—and illiteracy was especially pronounced in southern Italy, where most Italian-Americans trace their ancestry. In 1910, just 31% of Italian immigrants aged 14 to 18 were enrolled in school, compared to 48% of the Irish and 56% of the Jews. Today, Italian-Americans exceed national averages in educational attainment and income. Fears that the newest arrivals are overrunning America and changing it for the worse have a long pedigree. "Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs," wrote Benjamin Franklin in 1751. Big Ben wasn't paranoid, but he was living with a flood of German immigrants into Philadelphia. Street signs were printed in German, and German-language newspapers proliferated. In 18th-century America, you could travel from Pennsylvania to Georgia and speak only German. It's true that many on the left promote a separate Hispanic identity, but their impact is small compared to the great assimilating maelstrom of American culture and economic life. The stultifying attractions of the welfare state are also a barrier to upward mobility, but that is best addressed with reforms, not by limiting immigration. Despite fears and much bad data, immigrants continue to be the American asset they have always been. ---- A version of this article appeared June 18, 2013, on page A18 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: America's Assimilating Hispanics. original = http://tinyurl.com/mhyx2vn --30-- --