How Immigration Increases Poverty in the U.S.

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Immigration policy's effect on the labor force should be carefully considered, but the vast majority of immigrants are not admitted based on education or skill level. In 2009, the U.S. admitted over 1.1 million legal immigrants, just 5-8 percent of whom possessed employment skills in demand in the United States. By contrast, 66.1 percent were based on family preferences, or 73 percent if the relatives of immigrants arriving on employment visas are included. 16.7 percent of admissions were divided among refugees, asylum seekers and other humanitarian categories, while 4.2 percent of admissions were based on the diversity lottery (which only requires that winners have completed high school). Some family-based immigrants may be highly educated or skilled, but the vast majority of admissions are made without regard for those criteria. The immigrant population reflects the system's lack of emphasis on skill. Nearly 31 percent of foreign-born residents over the age of 25 are without a high school diploma, compared to just 10 percent of native-born citizens. Immigrants trail natives in rates of college attendance, associate's degrees, and bachelor's degrees, but earn advanced degrees at a slightly higher rate (10.9 percent, compared to 10.4 percent for natives). Illegal immigrants are the least-educated group, with nearly 75 percent having at most a high school education. Overall, 55 percent of the foreign-born population has no education past high school, compared to 42 percent of natives. The median immigrant worker has an income of $30,000 per year, trailing native workers by about 18 percent. At $22,500 per year, illegal aliens make even less than their legal counterparts. Though U.S.-born children of legal immigrants are no more likely to be in poverty than those in native households, the children of illegal aliens and foreign-born children of legal immigrants

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