Census figures show economic gap narrows with citizenship


Danilo Gonzalez, 4, plays with an U.S. flag after his mother Indra Lakowitz, of Colombia, became a citizen during a ceremony at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Miami field office, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in Miami. One hundred fifty people from 40 countries took the Oath of Allegiance to become citizens during the ceremony. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Foreign-born residents had higher rates of being employed full-time than those born in the United States last year, and naturalized immigrants were more likely to have advanced degrees than the native-born, according to figures released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The new figures show that the economic gap between the native-born and foreign-born in the United States appears to narrow with citizenship.

Immigrants who weren’t citizens had higher rates of poverty, lower income, and less education last year compared to native-born citizens. But immigrants who were citizens had less poverty, close to equal earnings and higher rates of advanced degrees than native U.S. citizens.

The 2018 figures from the Current Population Survey offer a view of immigrants’ education levels, wealth, and the jobs they work in as the U.S. is engaged in one of the fiercest debates in decades about the role of immigration.

Stopping the flow of immigrants into the U.S. has been a priority of the Trump administration, which has proposed denying green cards to immigrants who use Medicaid and fought to put a citizenship question on the decennial Census questionnaire.

Monday’s figures also look at differences between naturalized immigrants and those who aren’t citizens.

Education appears to play a role in narrowing the income gap between the native-born and the foreign-born.

Overall, naturalized immigrants had a slightly smaller median income than the native-born — $50,786 compared to $51,547 — but noncitizen immigrants trailed them both with a median income of $36,449.

But naturalized immigrants with a college degree surpassed college-educated natives’ income, and both naturalized immigrants and noncitizens with advanced degrees had higher median incomes than U.S. natives with advances degrees.

Immigrants, both naturalized and noncitizens, were overwhelmingly urban and suburban dwellers. Less than 1 in 20 immigrants lived outside of a metropolitan area last year, compared to about 1 in 7 for native-born citizens, according to the figures.

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