Future Bright for Immigrants

Harrison Sheppard and Jennifer Radcliffe, Long Beach Press Telegram, Jan. 25

SACRAMENTO—Foreign immigration to California will slow over the next 25 years even as the second generation of immigrants continues to increase in size and to make a stronger contribution to the work force, according to a University of Southern California study released Tuesday.

“California Demographic Futures’ projects that the children and grandchildren of California’s current new immigrants will improve in education level, voter participation and health-care coverage.

These second-and third-generation Californians will also make up a larger share of the state’s population, with growth in their numbers outpacing the increase in new immigrants. That will allow them to replace the aging baby boomers as key producers in the workplace.

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The study projected that the political influence of the Latino population will continue to grow faster than the growth in Latinos’ actual numbers. As new immigrants become assimilated and gain U.S. citizenship, their political clout grows, and their descendants vote at higher rates.

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Among the USC study’s findings:

• The share of foreign-born in the state’s population grew from 15 percent to 27 percent in the last 25 years, but will only grow to almost 30 percent 29.8 percent by 2030.

• The second generation grew from 12 percent of the state population in 1980 to 17 percent currently and will be almost 21 percent in 2030.

• The second generation is expected to account for the majority of growth in the state’s work force by 2030. In the last 25 years, new immigrants made up about two-thirds of the work-force growth, but in the next 25 years they will provide only one-third of the growth. Instead, the second generation will constitute 59 percent of the growth.

“This report should remind us how important it is to continue to support public education,” said Jose Huizar, president of the Los Angeles Unified School District board.

Immigrants, their children and grandchildren “are going to be the backbone of our economy in the future,” he said.

“If the Los Angeles Unified School District isn’t up to the challenge, it will set up immigrants for a cycle of failure. What we don’t want to do is create a permanent underclass of immigrants. We want to ensure that people have social mobility.” The alternative, he said, is “to create permanent poverty.”

School district officials said they’re already noticing academic gains among Latino students, who make up about 75 percent of the district’s 747,000 students.

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