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Study: Immigrants Assimilate Well

July 2, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Within 20 years of arrival in the United States, more than 60 percent of immigrants lived in their own homes in 1990, says a study on how well immigrants integrate into American society.

About 76 percent of immigrants who had lived in the country for 40 years were naturalized citizens, and three of four spoke English well within 10 years of arriving in the United States, said the study.

``Immigrants are much better prepared in English than is commonly thought,″ said the report, released Thursday by the National Immigration Forum, an immigrants’ advocacy group.

``Assimilation is not about immigrants rejecting their past, but about people of different racial, religious and cultural backgrounds coming to believe that they are part of an overarching American family,″ the study said.

Assimilation is a long-term and sometimes multigenerational process, the report said. Immigrants rarely discard their native language and culture immediately.

There were more than 26 million foreign-born people in the United States in 1998, about 9.8 percent of the total population, the report said. ``Of these, 67.2 percent had arrived in the U.S. before 1990, with almost a third (32.8 percent) settling between 1990 and 1998.″

An estimated 27.1 percent of immigrants living in the United States were of Mexican origin. The Philippines were the second most common country of origin, at 4.6 percent, and China was third, with 3.9 percent.

Nearly one-third of all immigrants live in California. Six states are home to more than 70 percent of immigrants: California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois and New Jersey, the report said.

Data for the study were taken from the 1990 census and the Current Population Survey, which tracks generational differences.

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